Borders are Like Poems

“Aussi ai-je enfermé sous ma langue un pays,
gardé comme une hostie”

                                                  Nadia Tuéni

“Tell me about your country” – she commanded,

as if I can open a page inside the cage

of an inner atlas, and pinpoint a mountain peak

spread over the valley, inside a museum of forgetting,

an old taxidermy shop after the taxidermist

died, forsaking a prehistoric bird with melted

wings on the speckled floor.

A glade ambles vertically, feebly holding

the obdurate Mount Lebanon with the acquiescent

Anti-Lebanon from plunging into the abyss.

Fractal images, portents of sirocco storms,

loom on the rocks of Byblos, scour the shoreline,

where old fishermen mend their shredded nets

with letters of the alphabet.

Ancient shores beckon rivers that feed them with invisible

silt, secret alluvium, steep-sided gorges, choruses of

vagarious reefs, seracs scraping adrift on submerged

limestone, spurs across fjords gazing at a waxed moon.

Nothing is left for us but salt marks on the membranes

of an earth we treaded, a land with no borders, unfinished like

the best poems, leaving us opened, a murex on a rock.


Donia G. Mounsef grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. She is a Canadian-Lebanese poet, playwright and dramaturge. She splits her time on either side of the Canadian Shield, between Toronto and Edmonton where she teaches theatre and poetry at the University of Alberta. She is the author of a poetry collection: “Plimsoll Lines” (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2018), and a chapbook: “Slant of Arils,” (Damaged Goods Press, 2015). Her writing has been published and anthologized in print and online in Pacific Review, The Harpoon Review, Rabid Oak, La Vague Journal, Habitat Literary Magazine, The Toronto Quarterly, Bluestem, Yes Poetry, Gutter Eloquence, Poetry Quarterly, Lavender Review, Linden Avenue, Bookends Review, Gravel Magazine, Skin 2 Skin, Iris Brown, Reverie’s Rage Anthology, 40 Below Anthology, etc. Her performance poetry and plays have been performed on stages in Toronto, Avignon, Montréal, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, and New Haven.


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