Rasha Abdulhadi :: “Romancing the Artichoke”

oh darling it’s been so long
and you’ve been made so
tender by time, succulent at the root,
past prickle and thorn
as I peel each leather leaf
of your protective petals
butter you up, my lips and teeth
seeking succulence at the root
peeling toughness tenderly,
taking my time with your trans-
luminescence by candlelight
considering every fold, every
layer’s transit, take you to me
with the soft music on
letting fiber be fiber, accepting
only the cleft ridge of sweetness
watching your colors change by candle flame
a sunrise disrobing your pinks,
your creams, your dusks relishing
the almost entirely edible middle of you
and at your sunflower heart, the delicate choke
of finest slivers of sharpness
silvered hairs precisely held aside, and you,
thorny again at the center,
a tight clutch over your seeded trove
softly softly, I know not to tongue
the spines or take them too personally
or give up, no no, not me, as I press my
nose against floret, three fingers upon a pedicel
denude of petals, the pretty-tough tasty-sharp,
and open wide to take you whole.

Rasha Abdulhadi is calling on you—yes you, even as you read this—to renew your commitment to refusing and resisting genocide everywhere you find it. May your commitment to Palestinian liberation deepen your commitment to your own. May your exhaustion deepen your resolve and make you immovable. May we all be drawn irresistibly closer to refusals that are as spectacular as the violence waged against our peoples. Portrait by JJ Dumont, 2020.