If monuments
are all that survive us,

if Palmyra,
dead for centuries,
is all that stands for beauty,

if, blind
to the blackened skies
and the savagery of an unmaking
the eyes of a statue
call to us,

if the Aramaic of ruins
speaks to us
like no mother tongue
nor parched throats
of orphans have,

if a hunger stirs in each of us
for a temple
empty of worship,

if our pulse quickens
for the ghost of Zenobia’s gowns,
her diaphanous gaze,
while the living,
knee-deep into their deaths
in smoldering cities
in boats dissolving in the sea
in swollen bellies of refugee camps,

if all that breaks our hearts is
and the silent colonnade
the dynamite,

if all we love
is a lost world

then let the dust
swallow our names

let the maps
beneath our feet

If all we are is past,
who are these millions
gasping for air?

Lena TuffahaLena Khalaf Tuffaha is a poet and translator of Palestinian, Syrian, and Jordanian heritage. Her poems have been published in international and American journals including The James Franco Review, The Monarch Review, Borderlands, The Lake for Poetry, Ofi Press Mexico, and Sukoon. Two of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (2014 and 2015). Her first book of poems, Water & Salt, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2017. She lives in Redmond, Washington with her family. You can read more of her work at