Reading “Lullaby” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
Poetry Lunch E4S10
Reading “Lullaby” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha from Arab in Newsland, Two Sylvias Press.
Oh to be able to carry more. Or carry better. This is a theme I fail at constantly. Lately I try to lean more into being vs doing but there’s a lot of grief daily, actively happening in our world in a way I cannot comprehend no matter how hard I press into it and try. I can only relate from my own places of grief, that impossible loss that never leaves, and turn to poetry by people who are experiencing today’s impossible loss firsthand. By firsthand I mean people who know people who are dying.
I love the honesty of this poem. I don’t feel it lets me off the hook but it makes me feel seen in my seeing and gives me a window outside the “glass bowl of our screens.” It makes our failure plain, in a simple excruciating way, and I find that helpful. It’s true. We cannot carry you. Not on our own, not through the screen.
I don’t have anything uplifting to add but I love where the poem ends, with the image, and the possibility—tomorrow is a powerful word to bring into the end of this poem, as I presume the little one it’s addressing is dead. But there are many more children where this one came from and they could yet live.
Yesterday I participated in the global strike and wrote to my representative in congress to take a stronger stance on the genocide in Gaza and vote no to “aid” to Israel, which literally means more ammunition to kill more Palestinians. Last week we launched a fundraiser to support an emergency aid to Gaza campaign (which literally means food and clothing and medical supplies) run by the Palestinian Feminist Collective that Lena recommended, and to spotlight her poetry and a couple other authors whose work speaks directly to this current tragedy.
I did a series of prints in collaboration with Lena when she was the inaugural poet-in-residence at Open Books in Seattle. Over the course of a year we created three prints from excerpts of poems that she wrote in the store — with the idea that they had to all hang together, but that I'd create one every few months, selecting an excerpt from the current batch of poems while the next ones were still being written. It's by far one of the most difficult design challenges I've ever done. The constraints were strong! I learned a lot and am still astonished with the final product.
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