A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

“Family,” by Omar Shamdeen


I remember when I visited my country Kurdistan, in Iraq.
I was eleven. Me, my brother and my parents had to sleep
At both of my grandparents’ houses.
I remember we decided to stay, which ended up
Being for four years.
I remember the doctors said we had to go back
To the United States so I could have a bone marrow transplant.
I remember when we got back to Seattle.
Me, my brother, and my parents were happy because we got to see
Our cousins and our aunts.
I remember first, we had appointments at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
They told my mom and my aunt about the transplant,
And the things that were going to happen.
I remember I had headphones on the whole time, and I didn’t listen.
But then, I found out what was really happening,
That I was going to stay in the hospital for a few months.
They put a line in my chest, and they said it would be fine,
But the surgery failed, and they had to open my chest again.
I still have a scar.
I was questioning my mom, my aunt, and my dad,
Asking if the scar would go away, because I didn’t want a scar.
I remember they had to give me steroids, which changed my mood.
The steroids made me feel angry and hyper.
I remember I was so hyper that one day, I washed the dishes
In the hospital.
It was like the steroids controlled me.

Omar Shamdeen wrote this poem while at Seattle Children’s, with WITS Writer Ann Teplick. Performed at the Seattle Arts & Lectures Women You Need to Know event with Imbolo Mbue at Town Hall on June 7, 2019.