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Years have passed, mother.
And the face of Damascus is present in our wounds
Over there, our homes were left behind
Our neighborhood friends are still young

Years have passed, mother
And at dawn, a bell rings in our courts
And the voice of children echoed the sound of the waves
And the families take their boats to an unknown destination

As if they were at its shores, the journey of the unknown scared them
So they became stories of our past
Over there, in our streets, fluff fell from our buttons
The cold harvests naked bodies in our barrows

Years have passed, mother
The hymns of the Umayyad Mosque were in our streets,
We recited the echo like hymns in our ears
Birds tickling trees that we planned ourselves

And engraved our names on its trunks
Over there, the jasmine trees decorated our windows
Their fragrance was the scent of our families

Over there, mother, in Damascus, are our playgrounds
We climbed the windows of our houses and sat up there,
And lived in the forest, and met in the valley
Our footsteps are still in its alleys

Over there, the light of dreams and desires that we sewed together,
And lived, in its vision
Over there, tears that we shed
We can still hear our childhood songs

And numbers that we still read out loud
Walls of houses that we filled
And laughs of our childhood filling our playgrounds

Over there, the hiding place of secrets that we buried
And in the deserts, mother, our memories tinker
And a bird sang on the window of our room songs that we knew
And the breeze of Qasioun are tickled by our curtains

As if the sand of Damascus, mother
And its stones and the sounds of its mosques, all came with us
The features of pain, mother, keeps me awake and takes away all my dreams
The diversion of our horizon divided us, here, and the purity of our blood united us

Here, mother, the blood of the Arabs unites
The language of the Father is the charter of our civilization
From Morocco, to the Mashreq
Here, here, there’s the Yemeni, the Adnani, and here’s Sudan, here’s the Egyptian, our people in the Euphrates, and Somalia…

We won’t forget our ummah, or the country of Miraj.
The prayers of the sky, our loneliness.

Over here, mother, the sun of our ummah will rise
And so will our civilization


By Héla Ammar
A site-specific installation in Shepherd’s Bush Market commissioned for Shubbak Festival 2019.
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