IT’S TERRIBLE WHAT’S HAPPENING THERE

people say, if it comes up I’m Syrian
when my daughter mentions her “Sito”
or I’m microwaving my kibbe at work.
And it is. But I don’t need to tell you.
You’ve heard the numbers of the dead.
You’ve seen the mothers turned grey.

I never know what to say because I’m Syrian-
American, and I know only as much as you
of the city that bombs are skinning
down to concrete and bone, where children
are sleeping alone in the rubble, where Haddads
and Imondis and Nourys are still living
if they haven’t fled or been killed.
When my father’s grandparents left Aleppo,
they carried their stories like gold
sewn inside clothes, but no one since
has pulled hard at the stitches. So
my horror is that of a woman who looks
at the sky and expects only blue—a luxury
my ancestors passed down to me.

Julie Danho | Those Who Keep Arriving, 2020

JO Barrios | Vessels, 2020