You’d think the dead would come at night:
shadows on a midnight wind,
shudders from the heart of mystery.
Instead they crowd in over my morning coffee,
hover insistently in the steam,
jostling their competing memories.
I tell them to come back later.
All those years of longing
and they think they can show up like creditors?
I have a family to feed, work to do.
But they are like petulant children
clamoring for attention.
My mother wants to give me
the cracked white porcelain angel
that stood on her dresser for years,
impervious to despair. I tell her no,
but she presses it into my hands.
While I’m pondering the pursed mouth,
the glue-stained wings, my father
pulls my t-shirt into a pouch,
fills it with clods of dry brown earth,
mumbling something about loss,
remembrance, Palestinian inheritance.
My uncle is next, holding
a glass of red wine to my lips.
On its surface I see faces
shimmering as if in a lake:
his wife, safe and whole before the bomb
that shook the East Jerusalem cobblestones
all those decades ago,
his sisters before the cholera epidemic,
his mother with a straight, young back.
He urges me to drink, but I fling the glass away,
hear it shatter on the tile.
My elderly aunt, our newest dead,
comes forward to sweep up the mess,
muttering about the carelessness
of the young. Ashamed,
I try to take the broom from her,
but she tells me to drink my coffee,
leave the dead to their own business.
When I raise the cup to my lips,
my mouth fills with dregs:
coarse, bittersweet, earth-dark,
dense as unclaimed memory.
Causes Lisa Majaj Supports
Playgrounds for Palestine
Middle East Children's Alliance
Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children
RAWI: Radius of Arab American...