Fake Za’atar

Poetry

Please note: This poem was originally published in print, and we've preserved the original layout. On larger screens, some lines may therefore appear cut off; to read them, simply drag the text area in the desired direction.

In a city where the Za’atar° is fake,
We are a genuine family
But not complete.
We are assembled from fractures of families who think
That farther is better
Conducting a Passover Seder without saying God
And believing
That next year
We will be in Toronto, which has been
Re-constructed.†
Knowing that even if it were completely rebuilt,
It will still be a night’s sleep and a little bit of a day away from Israel.

In a city where the Za’atar is indeed a fake but
The Matzah comes in a variety of flavours,
We eagerly swallow a fast-food Matzah-ball
In a Moroccan chicken soup
And pray:
That finding peace is not dependent on a native country;
That we are not really suspended
Between the fourteenth floor
And the hail that is pouring on the pool,
At the entrance to our apartment building,
At the end of April;
That we are not really so suspended
In the intimacy that the estranged treasures within,
The same one that turns acquaintances into saviors.

° Za'atar is a small, protected shrub from the hyssop family 
that is used as a spice in Israeli (and Arabic) culture. It 
mostly grows in Israel.

† A paraphrase on the ancient sentence "Next year in Jerusa-
lem when it is rebuilt," which appears in the Passover 
Haggadeh and in many of the important prayers in Judaism.

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Zaki Qutteineh