Hiba Abu Nada
We are grateful to Protean Magazine for allowing us to reprint this poem by the late Hiba Abu Nada, translated by Huda Fakhreddine. From the Protean website: “Refuge” was written on October 10th and is among the last pieces she composed before being martyred by an Israeli airstrike on October 20th.
The original post can be viewed on their website at: https://proteanmag.com/2023/11/03/i-grant-you-refuge/
We are also grateful to Bashargram for providing us with the artwork.
The poem is as follows:
1. I grant you refuge in invocation and prayer. I bless the neighborhood 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.”
4. 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.
5. 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 is a novelist, poet, and educator. Her novel Oxygen is Not for the Dead won the Sharjah Award for Arab Creativity in 2017. She wrote this poem on Oct. 10th, 2023. She died a martyr, killed in her home in south Gaza by an Israeli raid on Oct. 20th, 2023. She was 32 years old.
Huda Fakhreddine is Associate Professor of Arabic literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a writer, a translator, and the author of several scholarly books.
Bashar is an artist from south Gaza and a 5th year pharmacy student. His work can be viewed on Instagram @Bashargram