To be of the Middle East is to be poetry in motion,
To be the dawn that kisses the palms, whose leaves dance in the breeze,
To be the sapphire waves that lap the shores, their surging tides the caravan highways of the ancient songstress and the bright-eyed scribe.
To be of the Levant is to be of the market,
A cocktail of new and old, of Kashmir and Calvin Klein, of silk and emeralds and wheat and barley,
Of sandalwood and rosewater glistening on the necks of young lovers,
Whose laughter dances among the stories that swirl with tobacco smoke and distant memories, told in accents at once local and long-range.
To be Lebanese is to be indestructible,
The garlic roasting in the street suffocating the ash of what remained of the past,
The cracking of bread louder than any bomb could hope to be,
The dreams of tomorrow shining in the eyes of those children who were 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 that there are better things for you elsewhere;
But 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 may roam,
Harissa’s arms will open to you,
Should you ever come back home.