The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Letters from the Interior by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Elegy

To lose a homeland you must give away
your stories. No sentences can be saved.

Verbs will break, abstract nouns will collapse and
precious centuries will wither away.

The world you spoke of and the world that spoke
of you is now strafed with smoke. You must burn

the documents that will not pass checkpoints,
the line of refugees thickens, the siege

aimed at your ribcage sharpens its knives. You
no longer want. No possessions,

no hunger for bread. Only a border
passage, the frayed hem of a horizon.

To lose a homeland you must give away
your self. Your words must break open, become

empty containers the shapes of which will
forever remind you of what you had

to hold inside. Beyond the thirsting fields
there is an old road to walk and it is

never paved, never the place you used to
travel in the lemon blossom dreams

you used to have when you owned a pillow or
a lantern or the solace of a language.


This selection comes from the book, Letters from the Interior, available from Diode Editions.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sarah Ghoshal.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her first book, Water & Salt (Red Hen Press) won the 2018 Washington State Book Award. Her chapbook, Arab in Newsland, won the 2016 Two Sylvias Press Prize. She is the recipient of a 2019 Artist Trust Fellowship and has served as the inaugural Poet-In-Residence at Open Books: A Poem Emporium, in Seattle. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington and an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She has been published in Barrow Street, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Kenyon Review Online, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day feature.

Sarah Ghoshal’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Arsenic Lobster, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Empty Mirror, Red Savina Review and Broad! Magazine, among others. Her chapbook, Changing the Grid, is available from Finishing Line Press. She earned her MFA from Long Island University and teaches at Montclair State University. Sarah lives in New Jersey with her husband, her ten month old daughter and her dog Comet, who flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

 

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