Sackville protesters hear “I Grant You Refuge” written 10-days before Palestinian poet dies in Israeli air raid

Janet Hammock reading “I Grant You Refuge” in Bill Johnstone park one week ago

One week after about 250 people gathered in Bill Johnstone park to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, the uninterrupted killing continues with more than 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries.

During last Sunday’s rally, retired Mt. A. music professor Janet Hammock read a poem by the 32-year-old Palestinian writer Hiba Abu Nada who was killed in her home by an Israeli air strike on October 20th.

“This is why poetry matters, and why poetry speaks to us so poignantly as we try to let into our hearts the atrocity of this war,” Hammock wrote later in a comment to Warktimes.

She told those gathered in the park that Nada’s poem, “I Grant You Refuge,” had been translated from Arabic to English by Huda Fakhreddine, a professor of Arabic literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

I grant you refuge
in invocation and prayer.
I bless the neighbourhood and the minaret
to guard them from the rocket

from the moment
it is a general’s command
until it becomes
a raid.

I grant you and the little ones refuge,
the little ones who
change the rocket’s course
before it lands
with their smiles.

I grant you and the little ones refuge,
the little ones now asleep like chicks in a nest.

They don’t walk in their sleep toward dreams.
They know death lurks outside the house.

Their mothers’ tears are now doves
following them, trailing behind
every coffin.

I grant the father refuge,
the little ones’ father who holds the house upright
when it tilts after the bombs.
He implores the moment of death:
“Have mercy. Spare me a little while.
For their sake, I’ve learned to love my life.
Grant them a death
as beautiful as they are.”

I grant you refuge
from hurt and death,
refuge in the glory of our siege,
here in the belly of the whale.

Our streets exalt God with every bomb.
They pray for the mosques and the houses.
And every time the bombing begins in the North,
our supplications rise in the South.

I grant you refuge
from hurt and suffering.

With words of sacred scripture
I shield the oranges from the sting of phosphorous
and the shades of cloud from the smog.

I grant you refuge in knowing
that the dust will clear,
and they who fell in love and died together
will one day laugh.

Hiba Abu Nada’s poem appears in “Protean Magazine” (Click on photo to go there)

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3 Responses to Sackville protesters hear “I Grant You Refuge” written 10-days before Palestinian poet dies in Israeli air raid

  1. Janet Hammock says:

    The words of Hiba Abu Nada and the words of all those who write under the shadow of death, are sparks of light in the darkness. Thank you for printing them here, Bruce.

  2. Jon says:

    At their next rally, would they consider playing some music by bassist Jake Marlowe, who was murdered by Hamas in its massacre of civilians at the Supernova Music Festival, one of the atrocities that led to Israel’s invasion of Gaza? Or read words by any of the other victims of Hamas’s attacks?

  3. S.A. Cunliffe says:

    Charles Bukowski “The Laughing Heart”

    your life is your life
    don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
    be on the watch.
    there are ways out.
    there is a light somewhere.
    it may not be much light but
    it beats the darkness.
    be on the watch.
    the gods will offer you chances.
    know them.
    take them.
    you can’t beat death but
    you can beat death in life, sometimes.
    and the more often you learn to do it,
    the more light there will be.
    your life is your life.
    know it while you have it.
    you are marvelous
    the gods wait to delight
    in you.

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