We name a place by what it keeps
out what it wards off,
name our sanctuary after what can consume it.
We live on the edge of a growing desert
and water with abiding faithfulness
the apricot trees, the midnight-skinned eggplants.
We take what is sour and let it smolder
in sugar in flames
to loosen the knot of sun and time
at its core,
to stave off a winter in jar after jar
of what light has made,
what our hands have gathered.
We hold the ravenous march at bay
in the shade of a quiet cabinet.
We remember that, even in its name,
stone harbors some
of the damp alphabet of ocean.
*-Syrian Arabic word for pantry, derived from the word for ants.
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is American poet and translator of Arab heritage. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming from Lunch Ticket, Borderlands Texas Review, Mizna, Monarch Review and Sukoon. She has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize (for 2015 and 2016) and her first collection of poetry, Water & Salt, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in Spring 2017.