I watched my grandmother weave 
She’d sit on the concrete
Her henna covered soles 
Pressing down on the plaited la­­­­­kha reeds
Smooth beneath her foot

I watched her weave her story 
With patience, precision 
the wit of a woman
Her fingers tangled in the loose ends
Leading them in and out of each other

I would try to keep up
She would whisper in my mother tongue,
ghes beli - don’t rush
Then share with me wisdom from our history
She, illiterate
Only had her memories
And what her own hands could conceive

I watched her weave ­­­­
Tales of contentment and longing
defeat and glory 
Seeped into the braided reeds 

I watched her weave ­­­­
With absolute conviction 
That my own roots were captured 
in these interwoven contradictions 

Author's Note:

Read Manal's reflection on her commissioned poem here »

Meshrefet: This is a circular mat-like object that is hand-woven from reeds. There are different sizes and they are used for different things. For example, the smaller ones are used in the process of making coffee - a daily ritual - and the larger ones are used for making injera, a variety of flatbread. 
Lakha: Grown by the river, this is a plant used to make many household items and decorations in our culture. These items include meshrefets, baskets and brooms, among others.