To my sister Noura (Aleppo, 28 October 1975 – Ancona, 30 October 2014)
Guardian of memory
I appointed my insomnia
guardian of your memory.
I asked my loneliness
to accompany your shadow
and my silences to articulate time,
time that separates your eyes
from my glance, your smile
from my stony face,
your hands from my embrace.
I wrote your name among the leaves
and the wind blew it away,
I painted your face among the clouds
and my rain dissolved it
into rivulets of yearning.
Among flowers I looked for the most beautiful
and I found you in the flight of a butterfly.
I whispered your name to the waves
and the waves composed an ode,
and the ode rocked the moon
and her melancholy in the night.
I stroked your white gravestone and I heard
a breath of life takes wing among the cypress.
A handful of earth
I stole, for my severed roots,
a handful of earth.
With my hands I picked
the red that tells its story
and with my glance I stroked
the grassy carpet I had never trampled.
I bowed to kiss her wounds
and breathe its glory
and find myself. I, unknown to myself.
I guarded my theft
like a relic
and now the relic
embraces a land foreign to you
you who saw the first rays of the sun in Aleppo,
and closed your eyes in a faraway land,
in a city where I have no blood,
but I write my history.
I gifted you with my theft, my relic,
so that you may sleep caressed by a veil
that is neither that of a bride or of the faithful
but a veil of memory and identity.
Now on that hill
merging like two sisters
are the land of Syria and the land of Italy,
embracing you forever.
The name of rain
I am looking for a name
for the fragrance
of the first rain
an ephemeral moment
fragment of eternity.
My first memory
From behind the window where I was standing
I lifted my eyes to the sky
and saw white clods floating by
and birds getting drunk on freedom.
I heard the wind singing
a tune I didn’t know
and I trembled out of a sweet fear
dressed as the unknown.The world, outside, was flying
and I wondered where it would stop
and how we would return home.
My punishment was to stay there by myself
to learn that you are not supposed to write on walls
but you, an accomplice in that passion,
looked up to give me your smile.
The first thing in life I recall.
Asmae Dachan is a writer, blogger (Diario di Siria) and an award winning journalist, born in Italia of Syrian descent. Editor in chief until 2015 of the Italian journal Mondo Lavoro, she writes about human rights, the Syrian conflict, the refugee crisis and the anti -Assad resistance for major national Italian magazines and newspapers. An award winning novelist, she published Dal quaderno blu in 2009, 2 collections of poetry, Noura and Tu, Siria (co-authored with Yara al Zatr). Her latest novel, published in 2017 and set between Syria and Italy is called Il silenzio del mare.