My mother once said

Three Palestinians walking as hundreds of thousands flee Rafah in southern Gaza

Three surviving Palestinian children walk in the Gaza Strip, 11 May 2024.

Omar Ashtawy APA images

My mother once said,
there is no fear
in her embrace,
and safety
in her voice.
Yet my mother is afraid,
searching for solace
to hold her tight.

My mother once said,
we will survive,
the war will end,
we will return and rebuild,
and flowers will bloom again.
But my mother is gone,
she did not survive.
I could not find a flower to plant for her,
there might not even be a grave.

My mother once said,
I would become a doctor,
or maybe an engineer,
no other choice,
for the homeland
needs both healing and building.
But they took my head.
Oh, mother,
I did not become your dream
or the dream of the land.
I come to you,
headless – will you recognize me?

I will recognize you by your voice,
by your prayers
for me and for the martyrs.
I will not lose my way in the darkness,
for the fires of their hatred
have lit up the sky.

Oh, mother,
you lied, mother,
you lied for me and to yourself,
and for a homeland you loved.
But no one loved us,
oh, mother,
no one loved us,
except God.

Nour Khalil Abu Shammala is a lawyer in training in Gaza.