For Beirut

Elsa Abdallah

On August 4th we mourned.

We stood in total shock, in horror, in disbelief, in the streets of Beirut,

We carefully brushed away our tears, hoping there would be enough to clean the bloody streets, the bloody clothes, the bloody bodies,

We ran back to our favorite places, the spots we grew to love, the alleys we knew like the back of our hands, the roads we called home, only to find them shattered, wiped off, indistinguishable,

We picked up what was left of the once vibrant, lively, indestructible city,

We woke up only to realize that the reality of things was even worse than our darkest nightmares,

We had to say goodbye to our loved ones, our families, whose only deadly sin was to have been born in this country, where the weight of its citizens' humanity, hope, and kindness could not suppress the blinding greed and hatred of its governors,

This country that only ever knew wars, death, grief, and destruction and yet managed to survive, to strive, to shine in spite of it all.

Beirut is strong, undefeatable,

But they took her by surprise as she was staring into the sunset,
They shot her, left her bleeding till sunrise, screaming, pleading for help, gasping for air.

I'm sorry,

Sorry to the young dreams as shattered as the city's glass buildings,

Sorry to the burning hearts that were only extinguished by the tears of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, lovers, and friends,

Sorry to the kids whose minds will forever replay the atrocious sounds of the explosion, followed by the most deafening silence, only to be broken by the screams of widows, orphans, and victims,

I'm sorry we couldn't protect you, Beirut, you whose walls kept us safe for so long

You whose now abolished aisles still remember our laughs,

You whose buildings have kept our most guarded secrets.

The Beirut Port explosion traumatized, scared, and scarred me. Although I was not physically affected, I was deeply disturbed mentally and emotionally. I felt hopeless in front of the gravity of the situation. I would cry for the deaths of people I didn't know, the destruction of places I never visited. Ever since that day, I can't help but flinch when passing by what used to be the grandiose Port of Beirut; I can't help but hold back tears I thought had dried up a long time ago.

August 4th is a day not to be forgotten; it's a day to be remembered for its hurt, pain, and agony. We do not live in denial but in hope, not in regret but in strength, because we, the youth of Lebanon, will rebuild Beirut, in our minds, hearts, and souls. Beirut did not raise quitters, victims, and criminals; she raised fighters, survivors, and artists.