Leaving My Childhood Home by Zeina Azzam

On our last day in Beirut
with my ten years packed in a suitcase,
my best friend asked for a keepsake.
I found a little tin box
to give her, emptied of lemon drops,
that would hold memories of our childhood:
us swinging in the dusty school yard,
rooftop hide and seek,
wispy-sweet jasmine, kilos
of summertime figs, King
of Falafel’s tahini-bathed sandwiches,
our pastel autograph books.
All those remembrances
crammed in that box,
tiny storytellers waiting to speak.
Later her family would uproot too,
transplant like surly Palestinian weeds
pulled every few years.
We all knew about this,
even the kids.
I never saw her again
but know that she also
learned to travel lightly,
hauling empty boxes
pulsing with kilos
of memories.

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