Goodbye

Lisa Suhair Majaj

 

Always knew it would come back
to haunt me. It was war, time was short,
 
the truck was leaving, and with it my hope
of safe passage from that besieged city.
 
She was in another place, phone lines
down, no time to search her out.
 
I had to flee. And so I did. I knew
the spool of time would never
 
rewind, that there would be no
going back; that with that leaving,
 
I would lose my chance to find her
before the bombs exploded–
 
her home destroyed, her brother burned,
her eyes torn to darkness.
 
Where is she now? Would she
remember me if I found her?
 
And if I kissed her cheeks three times,
Lebanese style, and called her habibti,
 
hayati, would she speak to me,
smile? Or would she turn away,
 
her life so changed, her griefs so far from mine
that there would be  no point in saying, even, goodbye?

 

 

Lisa Suhair Majaj is the author of Geographies of Light, winner of the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in over fifty journals and anthologies worldwide. She is also co-editor of three collections of critical essays: Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers; Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels, and Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist. She lives in Nicosia, Cyprus.

My Father’s Garden

Marian Haddad

 

is full of weeds now –
I am okay with that – as a matter of fact –
I am stunned by their grace – their appearance since
May – I came to say Sabah il khayr –
 

to kiss the forehead of a father
one late Sunday morning – and they
took me
by surprise – and me gasping . . .
deep –  almost smiling . . . standing there,
by the bay
window bringing in
droves of light . . .
 

There they were –
what we call weeds –
but they were florid and high
in their stance . . . and the richest,
green – little yellow buds peeking
their heads . . . between what seemed
fields of gathering
fern . . . I was amazed
at the fecundity of forms . . .
of grass
of bright yellow
happenings. Our field
was near-covered
with them.
 

My father walked in to see
what all my great commotion
was about – he smiled, shyly,
almost ashamed . . . and said,
 

Badnah nik’lah-on –
“We need to pull them out.”
 

The man he was would never have
allowed such rampant things –
But I said, “No, Baba!”  “These
are beautiful.”  He looked and tried to see,
and I think he may have agreed
after the looking –
 

Two, maybe three feet of feathery
growth – and what seems a field
of small wild flowers
at the tips of stems . . . bright –
the color of sun –
and just enough space
between them
for wind to play
and breezes to sway
stems  . . . perhaps
 

his field has been
so dry for so long –
that they remind me
of his kept garden
that curled around our house
 

The grass was always there
and watered – as if we
expected it to be –
us running
through our busy days –
I assume we never thought
of how it stayed – Father
watering, placing the hose,
curled like a gardensnake
among grass – perhaps
that is why our lawn
was never as evenly colored
as the neighbors’ yards –
 

he would shift – after so long,
the placement of the coiled hose
to dryer spots, rotate,
every so often, the fielding
of water –
 

and so, naturally,
there were some yellow
spots and tufts of grass
that water
did not reach.  But there was always
 

grass . . . and the bricks and rocks
he’d use to build low circles around the trees
he’d plant – we saw them bud and grow –
yield his proud fruit – always asking the guests
if they’d like to see
the garden,
explaining proudly,
pointing each one out . . . and the naming began:
 

–          apricot, fig, plum

–          mish-mosh, teen, khokhh
 

and the grapevines that crawled
along the stone
fence – so high, grapeleaves covered
the wall – and the grapes, hanging heavy
in their descending bodies
along the periphery
of our place –
 

and then
the daly  – the place he built
with chicken-wire and wood –
holding the vines up –
 

training them
to grow
this way . . . or that . . .
 

it was what others might call
a coop . . . we’d enter this large
sub-garden through a fence that unlatched –
chicken-wire high above us
and all around
to keep
the birds out  – to protect
the grapes – not pecked at

Father would walk slowly
amid the daly, raise his arms high up
to pick the pickable ones –
 

And I’d follow him
and put them in
a deep, long tray
until it was full –

arms heavy with fruit
and overflowing . . .
 

Picking grapes
in my father’s proud yard.

 

* first published on Rawi Website, and appears in the latest collection of Marian Haddad’s, WILDFLOWER. STONE. (Pecan Grove Press 2011) . . . to order an autographed copy, contact Marian Haddad at haddadmarian@aol.com

 

for author’s complete bio please see additional works in the SPRING ISSUE.  Haddad’s full bio may also be viewed on her “Author’s Page.”