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By Mosab Abu Toha

For Alicia M. Quesnel, MD


When you open my ear, touch it
My mother’s voice lingers somewhere inside.
Her voice is the echo that helps recover my equilibrium
when I feel dizzy during my attentiveness.

You may encounter songs in Arabic,
poems in English I recite to myself,
or a song I chant to the chirping birds in our backyard.

When you stitch the cut, don’t forget to put all these back in my ear.
Put them back in order as you would do with books on your shelf.


The drone’s buzzing sound,
the roar of an F-16,
the screams of bombs falling on houses,
on fields, and on bodies,
of rockets flying away—
rid my small ear canal of them all.

Spray the perfume of your smiles on the incision.
Inject the song of life into my veins to wake me up.
Gently beat the drum so my mind may dance with yours,
my doctor, day and night.

Source: Poetry (March 2021)

  • Living

Poet Bio

Mosab Abu Toha
Mosab Abu Toha is a Palestinian poet, short story writer, and essayist from Gaza. He’s the founder of the Edward Said Library. In 2019–2020, Abu Toha was a visiting poet and librarian-in-residence at Harvard University. See More By This Poet

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