To be of the Middle East is to be poetry in motion,
To be the dawn that kisses the palms, leaves dancing in the breeze,
To be the sapphire waves that lap the shores, their surging tides the caravan highways of the ancient songstress, the bright-eyed scribe.
To be of the Levant is to be of the market,
A cocktail of new and old, Kashmir and Calvin Klein, silk and emeralds, wheat and barley,
Of sandalwood and rosewater glistening on the necks of young lovers,
Their laughter dancing among the stories that swirl with tobacco smoke and distant memories, told in accents far-thrown and close to home.
To be Lebanese is to be indestructible,
The garlic roasting in the street suffocating the ash of what remains,
The cracking of bread louder than bombs could hope to be,
Dreams of tomorrow shining in the eyes of children mercifully spared yesterday.
To be Beiruti is to be young,
To dream of living dreams in a home away from home,
For while you love your mother’s cooking and your uncle’s wild stories, you know there are better things for you elsewhere.
Though you leave your home behind, the garlic and the salty sea, the rose water and sandalwood, the argileh and the laughter,
These will never leave your heart.
To be of the cedars is to be free to make the world your own,
But no matter how far you roam,
Harissa’s arms will always open to you,
Should you choose to come back home.