The Return
by Sonia Saikaley

Remember me, you cried.

I wept and my tears
washed your blistered feet.
The sodden ground absorbed footprints and memory.

I clutch a black and white photograph:
you pose in front of the Temple of Jupiter.
Performers dance between pillars in the background.
The town of Baalbeck thrives
with Fairouz in an apricot silk gown singing
amongst Roman ruins.

I close my eyes and imagine
the mountain village you were born in
whispering through the wind, come, come.

Years ago you stood on a ship's deck
with your head bowed, a suitcase in one hand.
You mouthed the word goodbye, swallowed hard,
and watched a rat scurry through a broken plank.
Now you return,

falling into her arms
you taste saltwater at the corners of your mouth

you accept offerings of arak, baklava,
even have the strength to dance,
laugh, exchange pleasantries.

Gravel paths cover your blue leather shoes;
dirt sticks to flesh as you walk on

a stretch of road like the Via Dolorosa.
Still shadowed by illness
your skin resembles ancient yellow robes.

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