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Two Poems


I met Haya Abu Nasser in January 2024 under the auspices of We Are Not Numbers, a youth-led literary mentorship program founded in Gaza in 2015. We Are Not Numbers, or WANN as it is called by its members, pairs young Palestinians who are writing in English with international mentors. The goal is to help the young writers develop their skills and to amplify their voices around the world. Since October 2023, WANN, its writers, and its mentors have forged literal lifelines, providing an outlet for expression, emotional sustenance, and material support for a people under siege. In this time, Israel has killed WANN mentor and teacher Refaat al-Areer, and four WANN members: Yousef Maher Dawas, Mahmoud Alnaouq, Huda Al-Sosi, and
Mohammed Zaher Hamo.

Nancy Kricorian



Haya Abu Nasser

A Desperate Bird

A desperate bird, fleeing the roar of tanks,
beats its wings in frantic protest.
Above the tangled wires at the border,
engulfed in a cloud of tears and flames,
I stride away, abandoning family, memories, home.
I carry fervent longing on my chest as an amulet,
which will bring me back someday.

I depart like a bird, with the eastern wind
losing its feathers away from the nest
on a day when the sky wept.
Oh, future, I stand at your doorstep a beggar,
wandering from one death to another,
pushing my footsteps forward.
Yet memory never rests,
and sorrow never sleeps.

Oh, Mother, life's harshness casts its shadow,
and my restless mind is a turbulent sea.
Each evening, my whispered plea
is a message waiting without an answer.
In the ravaged streets of our homeland,
drones drown out the sound of your prayers.
No lights, no connections,
and my unanswered question echoes,
in the desolate night:
"Hoping you're well, dear Mother, are you well?"


Whispers of Love

We didn't fear the future,
believing the sky bestowed rain and stars for wishes.
We never knew it could turn into fire from shells,
and we, you and I, were like tulips in spring,
like the season of sardine catches,
and the freedom of the fisherman's net.
We learned how embracing love could offer salvation,
yet death put an isthmus between us,
and you died from a stray shell.

We were two memories, two wounds,
two narcissus flowers, and two lilies,
two swallows amid death's seasons.
But now I'm left alone.
Like a bird losing its wing in battle,
proud of its victory yet unable to fly.
Farewell, my love, until we reunite,
And embrace death together.
So now I understand, life isn't eternal,
but love is.

I search for us in history books,
And seek you within my memory,
Because I never had the chance to mourn your passing,
I wasn't there to sound like a clock's chime,
calming your fears,
And I wasn't there to sing you lullabies,
Sleep like an angel, my love, sleep like an angel.

This is what the woman whispered
over her husband's coffin,
And we weren't there to console her,
or rest on her shoulder.
As she wept with longing,
the missile found her,
and as she lay dying, she declared,
"The time of my death has come, my love,
you and I are now free from fear."
And her soul departed to join his,
destined to be entwined forever,

This is the moment I knew
that life isn't eternal, but love is.


HAYA ABU NASSER, a young poet from Gaza, lived in a tent in Rafah for several months after Israel destroyed her home in October 2023. In March 2024, Haya managed to leave Gaza. She is currently a Master's student in International Affairs at Lincoln University College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her work has been published in Evergreen Review, The Rumpus, Apogee Journal, AGNI, The Normal School, Scoundrel Time, and Airlight Magazine.

NANCY KRICORIAN is the author of three novels focused on post-genocide Armenian diaspora experience. Her new novel, about Armenians in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, will be published in April 2025.









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