Scribbles on the Poverty Line

Ibtisam Barakat

When I was a girl in a poor family
we hung our clothes to dry on the povertyline,
and with it I jumped rope.
My friends saw and joined me.
We were hoping to learn to jump over
endless obstacles and walls . . .

Our poverty line was generous and plentiful,
it ran from house to house like telephone wiring
made of rich gossip.
And like magic, when it was cut,
quickly self-renewed!
So everyone found good ways to use it:

I snipped a piece of it for my pony tail,
the pony that took me to many places
but not far away because it got hungry and
I had no extra food for it.

On the main holidays
we tugged the poverty line as an argument
with our neighbors
who had a bit more money than us.

On summer days, the line turned into a street
that we marched with our “holey” shoes,
filled as coin purses,
with street pebbles of the holy land.

At times when things were dark as kohl
I used the poverty line for an eyeliner
and could see that many people
were poorer than me:
their line was so long,
it could reach future generations,
if someone does not write something rich,
with hope, on it . . .

Poetry Diary of a Palestinian Woman

Last updated June 28, 2015