SANCTUARY

  
   
Here—the place
Where we speak their names
in shadows and reflections,
the trace of our belonging,
in this refuge—still living in
threads of memory, even when
the infection of violence, chaos
of a new explosion forces us
to remember the dead, the hungry,
the displaced in Aleppo, Baghdad,
Sana’a, San Francisco, Jerusalem

we carry this prayer on our lips

Hold your baby tight with the faith
that someone will receive you, want
you, want to know the story
of your life, someone’s hands
will circle you, someone’s heart
will hold you, someone’s nation
will welcome you after someone
else sought your erasure

we carry this prayer on our lips

In the requiem of light, you will be
more than a displaced person,
you will no longer be adrift
in the open sea where your suitcase
is the raft of your dreams, where
your sacred prayer can float
in the air of magnified hope
and the cycles of the universe
cannot stir a flower without
troubling a star,

Here, where we can be
one—
whole—
moving in the canopy
of the human.

—previously published in Poets and Dreamers

PERSIS KARIM is poet and editor and professor of World & Comparative Literature at San Francisco State University. She also holds the Neda Nobari Endowed Chair and serves as director of the newly-established Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals including: Callaloo, Reed Magazine, The Raven's Perch, and The New York Times. She is the editor of three anthologies of Iranian diaspora literature and is glad to be tending to her own poetry manuscript, Accidental Architecture, which was selected a finalist for the Catamaran Review Prize in June 2019.

Other work 
Anthem
Devote Yourself

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