Abstract

Returning to the refugee camp, “The Crack Invites” revisits what it means to invite and be invited to a camp. This invitation remains suspended, unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable to this day.

The Crack Invites

There must always be a crack.

In a crack in our old wall, I planted my intentions and left.

Before the same house, in the risen house, narrow and wide at the same time, in the same camp that is, I await your arrival. This time there will be no sacrifices but the dialect. You will borrow mine as we see for the sake of seeing, and I will borrow yours—a dialect for a dialect, noise for noise, to walk the road that is called a camp.

They will slaughter no beast on the threshold. Nor will they soak their fists with fresh blood to make prints in the name of the newcomer. They will only say: it is our blood, whether it is there or not.

This time they will bear their names on parchments and with the caution of unborn things, they will stare at you and your dialect.

I invite you to the limbs of the camp, to an above-place and below-god, to an aridity, infinite, with a name.

I invite you so you would see my mother's swollen feet treading on time as she performs her eternal prayers and despair.

At their plants, they will gaze. In your presence. Their only things. At the horizontal of the horizontal. They will stomp on the ground, once, twice, to awaken themselves from this aged dream. There, they will dust their old tools and memories, with hands made of dust, to cook you colors and meat, and wait for another coming.

Hands submitted at the door, draped in shadows and dried coriander. They put forth everything they have, from newborns to sounds, and remind you and themselves: this is ours since the camp. This is ours since God.

The crack invites.

Contributor Notes

YOUSIF M. QASMIYEH was born and educated in Baddawi refugee camp in North Lebanon and is Creative Encounters Editor for Migration and Society, Writer-in-Residence of the AHRC-ESRC-funded Refugee Hosts research project (grant AH/P005438/1), and Joint Lead of the AHRC-funded Imagining Futures Baddawi Camp Lab (grant AH/T008199/1). He is currently completing a DPhil on containment and the archive in “refugee writing” at the University of Oxford's English Faculty. Time, the body, and ruination inform his poetry and prose, and his poetry and translations have appeared in journals and magazines including Modern Poetry in Translation, Stand, Critical Quarterly, GeoHumanities, Humanities, and the Cambridge Literary Review. Yousif 's collection, Writing the Camp (Broken Sleep Books, 2021), was Highly Commended by the 2021 Forward Prizes, selected as the Poetry Book Society's Spring 2021 Recommendation, and named one of “the best poetry books of 2021” by The Telegraph and The Irish Times. Email: yousif.qasmiyeh@ell.ox.ac.uk

Migration and Society

Advances in Research

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