Chantal Khoury recited her poem "Common Ground" at the 2016 Halifax Lebanese Festival.
"Common Ground" by Chantal Khoury
I watched my father delicately press down the soft earth around freshly planted seeds, filling the garden with the promise of coriander and parsley, and all my dad has to say is: "this reminds me of home", and my thoughts unravel like an overfilled pita.
When I think about where I'm from, I think of my father, I think of the stories he tells, and I think of the stories he's told. I think of the apricot trees and the grape vines, homegrown by my grandparents, that overtook his childhood.
I watched my mom delicately trim the vine leaves, like her mom would in Lebanon. Both using strong hands and a gentle touch.
When I think about where I'm from, I think of my mother, I think of her tenderness. I think of her traditional meals made with 4000 years of tradition, and warmed by her heart. I think of the conception of her character, every self-constructed piece of her, that embroidered her being into the picture of the perfect Lebanese mother.
When I think of home, I think of them, I think of the penniless riches they brought me, self chosen pain, and self-sought recovery.
When I think about where I am from, I think of their journey. I think about a war torn country forcing two alien citizens with a one way ticket to a foreign land. I think of love at first flight, I think about two strangers meet as their hearts beat and 35000 feet, as they flee tragedy.
When I think about where I'm from, I think about my presence and my safety, as a reminder of their sacrifice.
When I think about where I'm from, I think about my father planting us like the seeds of the cedar trees, our only option to stand strong, ground our roots and flourish across the true north, far and wide, strong and free, for both of our countries, our glory and our flags.