Veiled Truths

She was shrouded in many layers that defined her in a manner that suited others. Her name carried the weight of heavy, hyphenated labels that pretended to know her better than she knew herself. People looked at her and saw her as an outsider, forgetting that they themselves often did not belong. She didn’t know how to explain to them that she came from a place where the best of friends could suddenly turn against one another, once they were old enough to understand politics, a place where children died before they could understand the concept of death, their laughter interrupted with an act of ruthless precision.

She had been that child once. She remembered the Damascus of her childhood as one filled with high-spirited street vendors who winked at her whenever she went to the market with her father, the smell of roasted sunflower seeds always present in the thick, summer air. She remembered standing on the marble floors outside the Umayyad Mosque at night, watching her reflection stare back at her toothlessly as she held both her parents’ hands.

People wouldn’t believe her if she told them that she also felt afraid. She walked past them everyday and recognized the anger and caution in their eyes. Sometimes there was hatred; mostly, there was indifference. In her black veil, she had an advantage, and this is what unnerved them the most. They couldn’t see anything except her dark, unwavering eyes, so they said nothing. But their thoughts were anything but silent, and she heard them all. In the same way little children pointed and their parents whispered, she learned to decipher the unspoken word. She wondered if they could do the same, if they could hear her even when she hadn’t spoken. I know I don’t belong here, she thought, just in case they could. But I don’t belong there, either. Tell me, then, where should I go?

“Self”

Beneath the layers

You construct

Deep down where no one

Knows you, as you pretend

To know yourself,

In the fabric of

Your fabricated lies and

Your woven untruths—

There is a part of you

That you have long since

Buried, the forgotten remains

Of happier beginnings.

She crouches in a corner of

A fragmented mind, rocking

Back and forth, teetering

On the edge of something new.

She reaches for the outside world,

Where you have learned to hide

In plain sight. But you push

Her down, into the depths of a

Miserable non-existence.

She is the only one who will fight

You, but you have long since

Given up the fight

“Circus Act”

I walk the tightrope that is my life

Only to slip into its frayed remains

While below the spectators laugh

And point fingers that, from this distance

Seem to me like the long-gone thoughts

I used to believe were my safety net

I climb upwards into the beginning

Of my fall, convinced that falling

From this height is better than standing

On solid ground. I have come to accept

That my feet will soon tumble just as

My mind has finally allowed itself free

Reign, and I can hear the warning bells

Echo in the chambers of a soon-to-be empty tent

The ringmaster has forgotten me before,

I should step off my rope before it becomes my noose

“Unafraid”

I am not afraid

Because I choose

Not to acknowledge fear

I am not unhappy

Because I have chosen

To re-define happiness

I am not weak

Because my strengths

Lie in my greatest weaknesses

I am not hurried

Because I understand

That life is just a glimpse

I am not relenting

Because I have a voice

And I recognize its power

I am not normal

Because normal is for

Those who settle for ordinary

I am not satisfied

Because I know that

My reach can extend further still

I am not right, nor am I wrong

Because, frankly, that

Is irrelevant

I am not alone

Because you are like me

Unafraid

“Roses”

Here lie the roses by the sea

Drowned in the salt of memory

Forgotten, lost, their color gone

Now dim, though once they brightly shone

They tell a tale of boundless woe

Their stems are poisoned, have ceased to grow

The pink of promise, washed away

Their yellow tint now deadened gray

The reds have bled what red they had

The whites, no longer pure, but sad

The salt of oceans stings their pain

And leaves behind a lasting stain

Their petals shrivel up in fear

And beauty hides when love is near

Just as the heaving ship will sink

So too do these sick roses drink

Where even sunlight cannot reach

Finding the surface hard to breach

Neglected in a moment’s span

Tossed by a cruel and eager hand

Here lie the roses by the sea

Where hasty judgment set them free

Drowned in the salt of memory

Here lie the roses, in the sea