Hala Alyan


HALA ALYAN is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the forthcoming novel The Arsonists’ City, and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, Lit Hub, The New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, where she works as a clinical psychologist. Source

Fatima :: Solstice

It's beautiful to speak for her; she's dead.

I sit in the scalding bath. I like to change my skin.


This is my sanity: salt and bubbles. To outlive

is to become mockingbird: She was, she was.


I echo her in the water, and in this way I live too,

walking at 2 A.M. in a village in Lebanon,


jackals waiting in the blank land. It is 1959.

Jiddo has a revolver in his pocket, to shoot


whatever might slink from the dark, but nothing does.

Only howls. They sing to keep the animals away.


I like to think she wore her hair in a knot,

high as a planet, that she only loosened it inside,


back in the new house. They barely knew the country.

The walk was over. The walk was forgotten about.


Only I am obsessed with it, stage-directing their lives

like the stranger that I am. It's all gone now: house, body.


What remains is no better than gossip:

animals, a fog that took days to leave her hair.




Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Death & Loss

Intersectionality & Culture

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”