Mountain, Stone

By Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
Do not name your daughters Shaymaa,
courage will march them
into the bullet path of dictators.
Do not name them Sundus,
the garden of paradise calls out to its marigolds,
gathers its green leaves up in its embrace.
Do not name your children Malak or Raneem,
angels want the companionship of others like them,
their silvery wings trailing the filth of jail cells,
the trill of their laughter a call to prayer.
Do not name your sons Hamza.
Do not taunt the torturer’s whip
with promises of steadfastness.
Do not name your sons
Muhammad     Ahed     Zakaria     Ismail,
they will become seashells, disappear in the sand.
Do not name your children. Let them live
nameless, seal their eyelids
and sell their voices to the nightingale.
Do not name your children
and if you must
call them by what withstands
this endless season of decay.
Name them mountains,
call them stone.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, "Mountain, Stone" from Water & Salt.  Copyright © 2017 by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha.  Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.
Source: Water & Salt (Red Hen Press, 2017)