Dalia Elhassan

Dalia Elhassan is a Sudanese-American poet who has lived in Miami and NYC. She is currently attending The New School. Her interests are primarily in social justice and literary studies. Her poetry has been placed in competitions and is featured in a number of publications including The Kenyon Review, the Sierra Nevada Review, The Oakland Arts Review, and Rattle #59. She is the recipient of the Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prize for nonfiction and has performed at venues including the 2017 Justice Speaks! Conference at Seattle Pacific University. She can be found online @daliaelhassan.

metonym for سوداني/ sudani

a woman on the train this morning laughs and says to me she thought the sudanese were black                    on youtube last night isra ibrahim is on stage in my hometown proclaiming her body’s been colonized a hundred times over                     what happens when a whole nation is sick

believing our proximity to arabness / whiteness power           will save us     my mother does the dna test and hopes to find european blood in her                   i do the test and hope to find more context                              the truth is no one in my family keeps record

and no one wants to hear this diaspora shit

if i could ask the soil to tell me what’s fallen on it i would hear the bodies     the women wrapped in tobes, mummified by choice, throwing themselves into the nile   how many of us would rather our countries swallow us before the colonizers       i don’t actually know what to make of this                         woman on the train    looking at me again  and i think she cannot know me without comparison so i smile at her     looking             nothing  /  exactly        like my people swearing this: no one will ever again make me forget what i came from:        acacia wood                 black henna     body dancing at midnight        voice rising in the music          and      ululation          and      resistance


i claim the corner seat
on the back of this pickup truck
with my uncles whose skin
are the color of freshly ground bun
and habahan

 we’re five hundred miles
east of the place where the white
and blue nile meet
and hold the longest kiss
in history

i come from a country
where all we sing
are love songs
a country where all
the songs can be about حب [love]

or         my parents
father not yet my baba
seeing my mother
and her fair skin
for the first time

or       the first time she flashes
him a smile/baba guiding a prayer
through the gap between
his two front teeth

or        my grandfather
planting a pomegranate tree
in the house my grandmother
prays a family in

on sudan national tv, a woman appears in darfur

and the journalist bends to ask if the sudanese were listening, what would you say to them?             she wants nothing but newspaper to line her bag, a new teapot, and blood to stop spilling             the guardian calls it ethnic cleansing, says these sudanese arabs are bloodletting                    rising up against the sudanese africans and it confuses me        at night, sometimes, i imagine a sudan that isn’t broken         not without a south      doesn’t look shattered by the two niles        don’t forget we’re the country where they both meet              i don’t  call myself an arab      because i’m not                when i ask my family about darfur it’s            :       “we can’t know for sure              i mean do you believe american media            i mean they’re doing this to themselves        i mean he’s a fine president     i mean it’s not his fault, it’s the people under him                   i mean that we are not being complacent      i mean forgive us for our ignorance, all we want is to live peacefully and our water clean and our electricity to stay on through the night                        sudan isn’t like those other countries  here we know patience            here no one is dying                it’s been 27 years of waiting               maybe this is what we’ve been waiting for     i mean              the world is opening up to us     i mean we’ve never seen proof         i mean god knows everything                    i mean to say i don’t know for sure                                         i mean  who do we believe?”