Poem of the Week | December 01, 2014

This week we’re delighted to offer a new poem by Hala Alyan. Alyan is a Palestinian-American poet and clinical psychologist currently residing in Manhattan. Her work has appeared in several journals including Copper Nickel, CALYX, Third Coast, and The Journal, and her first full-length poetry collection, Atrium, published by Three Rooms Press, was recently awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry. Her second poetry collection, Four Cities, is forthcoming by Black Lawrence Press in 2015.
Author’s note:

This poem emerged from a conversation about the cultural meaning of hunger and feasting, and how our relationship with food is often directly linked with the political landscape of our lives—the desperation, the coveting, the glut.






In the beginning we ate oceans,
translucent oysters, fish eggs, a radiant orb


of green.
Our fingertips sticky with brine,


reaching for more.




Cassiopeia tosses her eyes over our
arid feast


of sand and milkweed. We emerge
from the dawn like jinn.


Willing ourselves alive.




We fill our bowls with
and rain.




A thousand empty hands.


The children clutch whatever grows, flowers, ants, a moth
with crunchy wings.


They suck the dirty ice.




The plate is a black eye, winter berries buried
in a cup of sand.


We eat the gazelle tongue first.


Her language engulfs us: grass pastures and sky,
mushroom clusters


blooming in the field of cinders.




The men steal clams from the market.


We sit around tables
eating the salty bodies whole.


Savage longing—
Our mouths fill with the spines of things


slow enough to catch.