(WOMENSENEWS)–We kept only the keys,

letters, and photos–

everything else stayed behind

when we left the house.

That can happen when

a nation changes overnight,

when those you know

turn into

a gate of feathers–

and the thing about feathers is,

they know what’s been missed.

For years I watch

my neighbor’s house

from others’ windows–

different countries,

various homes,

some of brick, some of stone.

Some never imagine

what a home can mean

when an unfinished tune

traps the ceiling.

I pretend

never to have

seen a body midair,

a father’s hands

planted on the ground–

after all

what we don’t admit to

never happened.

But I couldn’t

change that day in Murcia,

when water brought light

to the door:

I am seven

it is the day before our departure,

the day my father

gives me a notebook,

and I tell him,

this is where I’ll keep my country.

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Poet Explores Effect of a Nation’s Sudden Change

The Thing about Feathers, from "Poet in Andalucia," forthcoming Spring 2012, University of Pittsburgh Press.

Nathalie Handal is the author of numerous books including, "Love and Strange Horses," winner of the 2011 Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award.