Dear beloved mothers of Gaza

I have no words of solace or comfort. For there can be no solace from genocide. There can be no comfort when you’ve lost everything. I only have prayers leaving my lips as I hold your pain in my heart. I’ve been grieving and crying with you, every day, every minute, every second. Every night that your homes get showered with bombs are nights that I stay awake. I pray and I pray. I cry and I cry. I focus on my breath and my thoughts are with those who can’t breathe, under the rubble, holding on to their last breath, waiting for someone to hear them, to help them, to rescue them. I wish my breath could become their breath.

Every mother’s pain feels like my own. As I hug and hold my child I think of all the mothers who are cradling theirs who have left us for the heavens. I can feel your cries rise from within me and it’s a grief that will not ever leave me.

You have shown the world a love beyond what is possible, a divine love. A Palestinian mother’s love is a love like no other, one that asks for a sacrifice as great as her children to be elevated to martyrdom. I wish your love wasn’t to be tested like this. I wish you didn’t have to live with a never-ending heartache. I wish you didn’t have to endure.

I promise to endure for you.

I promise to speak up for you.

I promise to keep telling your stories.

I promise to never tire of being in this struggle for liberation with you.

I promise to never hold my tongue, and to always speak truth to power. Even if it may cost me.

I promise to put my body on the line.

I promise to keep holding those responsible accountable.

I promise to dismantle these interconnected systems of violence draining you and I of all life.

I promise to build a world full of care where the children of Gaza thrive.

I promise to keep the hope alive for a free Palestine, from the river to the sea.

I promise to keep my promises.

If I falter I hope you forgive me.

I know there’s too much forgiveness we ask of you already.

Our fates are intertwined, freedom for you means freedom for me.

The souls of my soul, I want you to know that I hear you, I see you, I am with you, I am embracing you. And I will never leave you.

With all my love.

– Meera

My Freedom Is Tied With Palestine

The bluest of skies is dying.
My morning tea abrades my throat
sip by sip, it makes me dead.
I think I used the tattered tea bag
that I picked up from rubble
of some Gazan house; it’s the spoilage,
dust and fester and I used my wrong hand
to stir my morning tea.

The cold and dead hand that I
picked hanging beside the tea bag
from rubble of some Gazan house.
I think it dripped some blood in
my cup, it makes me sick –
But I woke up sick
beside a maimed woman.

She’s my mother, I know from her hair
I picked her from Gaza, and her
grieving daughter – that’s me.
I went to bed wretched, and sick
in the deepest pit of my stomach
and in the soul of my soul.
Waking every now and then
to neonatal cries of babies I picked
from ICUs of Gaza; they mourn and die

They mourn the anticipatory grieve
for the unborn of the unwed bride.
Her wedding dress hangs in my wardrobe
white and stained red, I picked from Gaza
on my way to work, I stopped
by an icecream truck. Sweet bell rings –

Come sweet children, frolicking!
But the truck is loaded with corpses
And a father brings his children;
a limb, some skin and rags,
in my grocery bags.

I sit down to write –
I turn and toss the sky.
The bluest of skies that’s dying
I see Refaat’s kite; it’s white
and flying on, even in death.
In poems that he bled, wounds that
he penned. And every other hour,
I check Motaz’s tweets and posts
To cling to some hope –
of restoration of my peace
And of Gaza ever after.
My freedom is tied with Palestine.

– Syma Tasaduq

Oh Palestinians, I Am Sorry

I’m sorry that the world doesn’t recognise you.

I’m sorry that we live in a world where animal rights are acknowledged, but human rights aren’t.

I’m sorry that human rights are questioned on the basis of ethnicity.

I’m sorry that we live in a world where people can recognise a person as a “table” but not as a Palestinian.

I’m sorry that people are tired of seeing you suffer, not realising you’re tired of suffering.

I’m sorry that people need the evidence of your dead and mutilated bodies to believe in genocide.

I’m sorry that we failed.

I’m sorry that no one is hearing your screams.

I’m sorry that people with power have become powerless in front of the oppressor.

I’m sorry that people are taking the oppressor to be the victim.

I’m sorry that people are choosing to be on the wrong side of history.

Oh Palestinians, I’m sorry.

Manal Ahmed

Palestine, You Are Not Alone

We hear your voice, we feel your pain.

We stand with you, we share your dream of freedom, justice and dignity.

Palestine, you are not forgotten.

We see your struggle, we know your history.

We honour your courage, we admire your resilience of hope, faith and humanity.

Palestine, you are not defeated.

We support your cause, we demand your rights.

We join your resistance, we amplify your message of peace, love and solidarity.

Zarwa Abdul Razzaq

Excerpted with permission from Letters to Palestine: Voices of Compassion – Creatives Showcase Solidarity in an Anthology for Palestine, Zuka Books.