Poetry

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Written by Dane Verret (Middlebury College) and Katrina Gray (University of Wisconsin) who were studying at the C.V. Starr Middlebury School Abroad in Alexandria.

By Dane Verret:
Egypt will not teach the world
How to make pyramids
Will not teach us how to
Climb to the sun on ladders of stone
Will Egypt and Tunis instead
Teach us how to revolt?
And rebuild ours homelands
With the stones in our eyes and faces

Ya Masriieen
You are awake in your own dreams now. You now work with things heavier than brick, denser than your own blood, and lighter than feathers.
Your borders lay where the edge of your mind
Is a field of dates and cotton that sit on the horizon
Like a hijab resting on a woman’s brow.
Will you liberate your dreams
Or keep them covered
I wonder.

Ya Masriieen, you Egyptians
All the world speaks of you again.
What will you say to yourselves,
What will you allow yourselves to be
Neither Arab, nor African
Always something of your own creating
You have filled your streets with a love
Most people die without seeing
Feeling believeing in
It is worth more than your treasures and more than your martyrs
Do not let another steal this from you. You have the greatest treasure in all the world.
And it is quite like um khalthoum
Singing to an audience of herself
In the mirror.
By Katrina Gray:
The Boys
The boys were kissing their mothers
softly, stowing out into the heated night.
And those that were fed
on government bread
took up the broomsticks and butcher’s knives
willing to die.

They stole sleep when they could
flitting in and out between the grumbling of tanks
or standing curbside guarding against looters
(Are they among these good people?)

And, those others, more fortunate
found it, perhaps, a matter of pride
or patriotism- and followed suit.
Anyway, I pictured him wearing his Lacoste sweater
and shoes
In those hours, maybe 4pm to midnight
I laughed just as I cried– feverishly

Tear Gas
I went to sleep in Egypt
and woke up in Soviet Russia
the weight of a dictator’s fist falling heavy
on the notches in my spine

the men’s faces held concern
as we marched with them marching
and the army, a platoon of boys yet unmarried
watched stoic from their sand-colored tanks

we were all crying out our patriotism
proud and praying
we were all of us peers

Refugee
I wondered if I could
get away with it– writing refugee on my
forehead, in bold black letters

because, anyway, my identity changed overnight
or flying over the red sea
the dead sea, eastern europe

He asked me when I would come back to Egypt
I was drinking from his eyes
like drinking from the nile and I said
“I will be home in a few months.”
That’s when I became a refugee

when I landed in the Czech republic
and searched about my chest cavity

Anyway, I also left my passion
and pining and patriotism
and my summer skin

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