Photo of the Port of Beirut, taken by Ibrahim Mater, June 2021
I ate frog legs for the first time
at a restaurant in the Port of Beirut in 1969
when the country was a half-decade away
from its descent into civil war.
Paris of the East
you were my home
for a while at least
at a time when the region knew no other Rome.
I am reminded of the frogs leg dish
(legs slathered in cilantro and garlic)
consumed at a juncture when one could reasonably wish
that all the world would like
this place for its tolerance and diversity.
Four decades on, the Lebanese have been witness
to an explosion
of historical proportion
in the Port of Beirut
a tragic metaphor for the corrosion
to which this small but great country
Lebanon is a case-study
of how a place
adorned with beauty, harmony and grace
can lose its face
to the demons of groupism.
Where, my belonging,
who I am
Is more important
than what I am
and how I am
and what I want to be.
Where one’s identity
Is a registry
and ill-begotten riches.
In Lebanon, the politics of identity
have endangered the viability
of its nation
putting at peril
all that people hold dear.
That Lebanon’s plight
be not lost in the night,
that the country may
again find its way
and show others how they also can.