Marching Women’s History: While at war

Tasting the sky: a Palestinian childhood

by: Ibtisam Barakat

Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2007

from the flap

In this powerful, groundbreaking memoir, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war. With candor and courage she stitches together memories: fleeing from her home and becoming separated from her family as the Six-Day War breaks out; the harshness of life as a Palestinian refugee; and her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and his family of letters. As language becomes her refuge-a true home that can never be taken away-she begins to piece together the fragments of her splintered world.

Alef the letter

is a refugee.

From paper

To paper

He knows

No home.


Alef the letter,

He is the shape

Of a key

To the postal box

Of memory.


Alef the letter

sits in the front

of the bus

Of alphabets

To see.

He sees war,

He looks above it.

He sees war’

He looks below it

And beyond it

To see peace.


Alef knows

That a thread

Of a story

Stitches together

A wound.


Alef the letter,

He’s the shape

Of hope.

Like me,

A refugee.


For me,

My refuge.

Read an excerpt.