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To My Motherland

To My Motherland
Maryam Alatmane

When I was young, I loved your wilderness. Open deserts with the occasional olive tree for company. Mountains from which the setting sun seemed so palpable you could almost touch it. Waterfalls where the roar of rushing rapids serenaded my ears. Oceans that held promises under aquamarine waters. Palms that towered, bearing life in their fronds.

Now, I come to a town where all I can breathe are memories. The magic seems to have seeped from your tired bones. Plastic decorates battered beaches in mockery. The rivers I once played in are shrivelled and dry, empty veins crumbling. Where I used to look out to blue, blue skies, buildings crowd the horizon, cranes busily destroying a landscape I can now only see in dreams.

It’s hard to shape images of lost places.

To a motherland that has wrenched its insides out and forgotten its beauty – I remember what you were, once. I look up at the stars at night and think how much more you could give. The wilderness is still within you – in the whispering of trees, in the susurration of waves lapping against the shore, in the loud colours of my grandmother’s rooftop garden.

The wonderful thing about magic is that it can always be found, if you search hard enough.