by Kifah Abdulla

I dreamt that the war died
And it never returned again, ever
The cannon barrels grew jasmine
The gunpowder shells planted with gardenias
And there were no weapons in existence

I dreamt that the assassin couldn’t enter my dream
My body was no longer vulnerable
Not to the assassin’s whips
Not to disease, not to lice
Not suffocating heat, that cuts the breath
Not killing cold, that stops the heart
Not snow, that pierces the bones
Not to heavy black boots stomping on my head

I dreamt that the assassin
Couldn’t murder my dreams with bullets
My wishes weren’t so long denied
The prison guards became angels
The assassin won’t steal my dreams again
And that I’ll never be afraid, ever

I dreamt that the sky was anchored in my hand
The Stars covered my face
The sun shone from my mouth
And flew before me like a butterfly
Setting before my eyes like an orange
Falling on the field afar
The rain danced wildly on my shoulders
The wind flowed over all the wild flowers
Coming to me to be my perfume
The bird builds its nest in my hearing
Waking me every morning
And I fall asleep to its voice every evening
Instead of the murderous voice of the assassin
Who awakens only pain

And I dreamt that I was an autumn tree
Yellow leaves
Falling softly, smiling at me
The golden grasses
In which we lay, my sweetheart and I,
They remember me
I fly far, far away
And I never hunger
Finding sustenance with the ease of a bird

And I dreamt that I taste with my eyes
And I watch with my heart
The light radiates from my head
My fingers become candles
Lighting the dark of my prison
I walk over the water
The clouds are my pillow
And my faraway bed in Baghdad
It dreams of me
The sea waits for me
On shores of memory, loving me
Waves carry me on their shoulders
Cheering my name
The mirrors all watch me

A nod a dream chase me
A dream catches me
A dream flirts with me
And I wake to the face of my sweetheart
Her eyes long for me
And my dreams are all true
No nightmares stalking me
No assassin torturing me
I dreamt before I woke from my dream
That I am not a prisoner

from the collection “Dead Still Dream”

Kifah Abdulla is a poet, writer, artist, performer, teacher, and social activist. Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, he spent over eight years as a prisoner of war in Iran, and more than 20 years as a refugee. Kifah has published his second book, “Mountains Without Peaks,” a memoir. He is working on “Rebel: Take Action,” a large project that uses visual art as a medium to talk about many social and environmental issues. In her 2020 State of the State address, Governor Janet Mills named Kifah as someone whose story inspires Maine students. Kifah lives and works in Portland.