Something Like a Prayer for Syria.
If you had been born in Syria, I would still be in love with you.
It wouldn’t matter if you were Kurdish, Iraqi or Lebanese. You would be you; I would be me. We would while away moments falling hand in hand into decades of history to love.
If I had been born in Syria, I would have grown up with you.
We would have dreamt up whole worlds on spray-painted tricycles, and brought them to life in our sandboxes.
When I grew up, I would’ve wanted to fly planes. You would’ve wanted to solve crimes or write novels.
Puberty would’ve stumped both of us.
I would’ve known what was happening to me was probably happening to you. But, of course, neither of us would have said a word. Instead, we would have poked fun at teachers in classrooms; chuckling at each other’s English in broken-up French. We would’ve careened–feet first–into fistfuls of adolescence, branding laugh lines in our faces.
If I was with you in the madness of March, we would have been fraught with decisions.
South through the hills to Jordan?
West to Lebanon?
Stay, wait and hope?
Whichever way we’d gone, I would have stuck with you in between streets. I would have followed you into abandoned houses; I would’ve helped you re-abandon them.
We would have found each other
with the old ways to love
in the midst of a host of new grievances.
You would have stroked my hand.
I would have covered your ears.
We would have held our kids so close they’d practically threaten to divorce us.
I would’ve wrapped my hand instinctively around your waist as you tried to assure our tinies that everything–yes, everything–would be okay.
if I was with you in Syria,
we would be alive together.
I would be alive for you. With you. Because of you.
I would be your lover, your teacher, your doctor or your friend.
You would be my daughter, my parent, my sibling or my priest.
We would break the last of our bread together.
We would wonder when it would all end.
But until it did–or until we did–we would do more than our best to stay alive. In silence, in terror, in stillness and commotion, we’d do our darn best to be alive.
We’d cling to each other in shadows of fear cast long by our flickering hopes.
We would whisper stories of who we still are.
And we would be alive.
We’d laugh, smile, and cry together.
We would never give up.
And when everything we knew was gone
and everything we had was lost;
when our minds were too spent from worry
and there were no words of our own left to say,
we would scribble a prayer we said long ago
down the side of a ripped piece of paper.
We’d recall the best way we’d found to read words: together, out loud, and twice.
You’d hold up the paper in the candlelight. You’d read the prayer out to me. Slowly, quivering, I’d attempt to return you the favor.
You would fold the note in my hand.
I would clutch it close to your chest.
We would lean our foreheads against one another’s.
We would close our eyes.
And there, in a world no bigger than the love we shared, we’d repeat the words softly again:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face to shine upon you.
And give you peace.
– Kupa Mutungu