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In a place where memories are not cherished

Rasha Alqasim, exile writer from Iraq, writes a furious, desperate poem about displacement and its aftermath

Credits TEXT: Rasha Alqasim Translation: Christina Cullhed September 11 2018

Rasha Alqasim is an Iraqi poet and media graduate. She has been translated into Swedish language by publishing house 10TAL and her first book was published in Arabic by publishing house-Almotawasit, in Milan. She was awarded the Prince Wilhelm Prize 2018 by Swedish Pen.
She has also participated in several cultural projects, including the "Joint History" project, exhibited at the Färgfabriken exhibition and will be exhibited in Riga and Gdansk this year. Rasha Alqasim is working on her second book.

Looking for broken doors—

From forgotten and frightening corners

Exploring the doors

And all the hands that passed over me.

At the inheritor’s house

I once had a room

With a broken door

A door like a writing tablet

To draw hearts on, shot through by arrows.

A hideout for pictures of my favourite singer

A place to hide nail polish

A place to hide coloured crayons

A place even for refuse

Refuse others tossed and I took

Refuse I lost and others caught hold of

Refuse we took from one another

Refuse others stole from us

Refuse we snatched from one another and never gave back

Who found my room near the roof of the house?

The roof that once was

A hideout for mother’s shoes that I neglected

A hideout for girls engraved on the wall

With bouquets of roses and broad smiles.

Everything around me is changed

In some way,

The door where my father made marks

To keep track of my mistakes

And because I am forgetful

I never cared

I didn’t mind at all

That this door

Was not merely closed.

Everything around me is changed

The garden—now a diminished desert

The house—an abandoned skeleton

my bed—a library

my empty notebooks have become an aeroplane

and the family a meagre poem.

I seek the broken doors from behind

Look for your home in my memories

Look through your memories for my home

I search for the farm demolished by a tank

For splitter in the door

For spall in the glass

For shards in our food

And for splinter in the heart of a dead “Razqia”

In the holy ground, and all the water that we sprinkled over it

I look for my memories in your homes—

Who found the picture of the singer I love?

Who found the forbidden nail varnish?

Who found my mother’s shoes?

For which I grew up

And abandoned under the sun for many years.

Who has found my mistakes on the door and erased them?

Who has erased the prison?

Just to celebrate me with an even bigger one—

Who has found the old notebooks?

And punished me with a poem?

Who opened the hairband?

Only to sprout a simple bliss?

My bag of hay—

Where I hid my keys

To the rooms sealed by hatred

One attempt to extend our home

This hallowed space inhabited by ruins—

Who stole it?

Who said the wrong word?

Before discovering

That there was nothing of interest to pillage:

only to turn and go?

I am in a place where memories are not cherished

I sprout in the dark

I germinate badly

I own a tear-stained vision

Poisonous enough to wound you with my words.

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