Issue > Poetry
Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi American poet. Her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, Knights Foundation Grant, Kresge Fellowship, Arab American Book Award, and UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. New Directions published her books The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq, The Iraqi Nights, Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea, and The War Works Hard.

What We Carry to Mars

This new tablet you are carrying with you has text and images of what's remembered from Earth. You saved your life in the cloud, and now you are traveling with it to Mars.  

You can't open a window, on the way, to have a look at Mother Earth, not even a last look. Like any other mother, she will not stop rolling around the sun, though her residents never really feel her movement.

Mothers are circles with cracks. As Leonard Cohen said, There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.

Save that in the words as vitamins for the soul file.

It won't matter if you forget something; you may simply go to the cloud and download the memories. Sometimes you smile. I know, sometimes you want to forget.

We are all refugees. We move on, feeling that we left something behind.

You don't exactly know what you missed.

Far away is a relative phrase. The place issue we've been discussing for a whole life will have another theory over there.

Time will not be the same either. I see you in a year of light means see you later.

The hour will have no minutes, just dust in a tube, and we can turn it over to see if we can return, just like this.

How many departures you are put up with?

Are we safe there? You wonder.
Are we safe here? Forget safety.

Here plants and no time to water them.

There time and no plants to water.

Here earth has gravity so you don't fly, and at the end you return to mother earth.

The Sumerians said returning to the mother when they meant freedom. See my poem "Ama-ar-gi" for further possibilities.  

In Mars, where do they bury the dead?

There, the gravity is less, thus enough to fly.

When you fly, cages become the last expectation.

T/here simple warmth, which is the difference between living and alive.        

Mars looks like a cake, but unfinished; and no god yet to punish the sinners or console the sad ones.

The new planet is almost empty but the word "empty" is relative too. The sky looks "empty" but it's stuffed with stories we invented for the angels and for the devils. Our grandmothers, too, used to stuff our pillows with feathers and stories they invented for us.  

You are not sure where should you start from. So much war and so much love. You pack it all and parachute to the new place like any immigrant with dreams and chimeras and dying stars.

A free dandelion, you are carried away in the wind, and in the background you hear "songs from the time of earth" from someone's tablet, by nostalgia or by accident. You are not sure.


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