From Andalusian Conversations: Twice Exiled

by Samuel De Lemos

I’ve thought of you often
My friends—

Two palm trees planted
near my California house.
You remind me of al-Andalus

Of things I’ve never seen.

Instead, I’m here
In the New World,

Wishing I was back home.

Unlike in Rusafa,

We are twice exiled!


This poem is inspired by:

A palm tree stands in the middle of Rusafa
Born in the West, far from the land of palms
I said to it, “How like me you are, far away and in exile!
In long separation from family and friends
You have sprung from soil in which you are a stranger
And I, like you, am far away from home”

–Abd al-Rahman (731–788), The Palm Tree (770 CE)(transl. D. F. Ruggles, Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999))