Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

— Virginia Woolf


by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

We cannot carry you,

our arms warm and dry

too late at the shore

of what has cradle-fallen

what sent a woman who fears the sea

what sent a man who fears

the burning skies of his country

into the razor-edged waves.


We cannot carry you,

tiny boat capsized,

upturned fish floating

in the glass bowl of our screens.


We cannot carry you.

We sink deeper, beyond

the midnight zone.

How to measure the trenches

of our silence, little one?


We want things smaller than we know.

A vessel strong enough

to lift you into tomorrow,

a life jacket or two,

a pair of small of shoes

pressing into the sand.



LENA Khalaf TUFFAHA’s poems have most recently been published or are forthcoming from journals including Lunch Ticket, The Boiler, Borderlands Texas Review, Broadsided Press, Blackbird, Mizna, The Lake for Poetry and Sukoon. This year, two of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her first collection of poems, Water & Salt, will be published by Red Hen Press in Spring 2017. She is an MFA candidate at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.


The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

—Cervantes, Don Quixote

© 2016 The Indianola Review