Creative

Poem: My teta

"She is rosewater"

By Dahlia Dandashi

Dahlia Dandashi’s teta (grandmother) Zat El Emad Dandashi. She was born in Talkalakh, Syria, and is a mother of six. Photo courtesy of Dahlia Dandashi.

I

P

o

u

r

And

P

o

u

r

Until the bowl can hold no more.

The rosewater takes me away

Back to times when showering with cold water and wooden buckets

Was how we survived heat.

I see her on the balcony,

Dried flowers and ivy pinned to her curls,

Sewing us into the quilts she created by hand.

I remember her there

Unraveling our ancestry with every poke and pull through as she made us part of our soil.

My teta.

My teta is a library of scintillating stories

And a bursting cabinet of spices.

She is the matriarch that made us,

The queen of Syria,

The goddess that seamed blankets with historical fingertips

To build immortal armor stronger than any words of animosity.

They speak of us with desolate tongues

But they do not know how sweet my teta tastes.

She is rosewater,

Tangy and grounded,

Passionate and blossoming,

The water of the earth that nourishes me and fills fountains,

The origin of all life that brings me back home.

Dahlia Dandashi is a Lebanese, Syrian and American photographer, writer and creative content producer. Her work reflects on the themes of identity, nostalgia, womanhood and culture. Though she grew up in Dubai, she  currently resides in Houston, Texas.