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Lara Hamza Lara Hamza was born in Beirut and by the age of six had lived in Lebanon, Libya, Bahrain, and the United States. Her family shuffled between Florida and Michigan, eventually settling in the latter, where she now lives and teaches. She was educated at the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. Her poems possess “a uniquely ‘liminal’ voice—at once paradigmatic and ‘fabulistic’—in effect, seizing the prose poem as her own emblematic lyric form.” Hamza cites as among her influences Charles Baudelaire, Charles Bukowski, Albert Camus, and Russell Edson. She prefers the prose form, which releases language from the restrictions of line and reveals the darker, sometimes humorous aspects of her subjects. Advice for Marriage You can’t walk into a vegetable store and come out with gold. I dreamed of gold once, and ended up with a potato—Why? I was destined for a potato. You? You’re different. You will have gold—Why? Because you can! You really can! Let us go to the jewelers, you and I. Here, use your teaspoon; melt your honey in your drink. My Mother Wore Miniskirts Now she’s a Hajji. Made her pilgrimage this year. Brought back prayer rugs, told me to choose. I chose red with shiny gold thread. Red seemed least holy, red seemed to fit. Please try, she begs me, please try to pray. I can count on a pamphlet every four years: high school, college, graduate school. I open and read them, look closely at the sketches. This is how you wash: elbows, arms, forehead, feet. This is how you kneel and rise, and this is what you say: Bis-millah Al-Rahman Al-Rahime: In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. How pretty her legs were in old black and white: slender, long, and free. But that was the devil, she tells me, the devil I didn’t know. I keep my rug rolled tightly beneath my bed. The beads inside its pocket worry me to sleep: Why don’t you try? Why won’t you try? The smooth stone from Mecca waits for a kiss. 130 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 130 Behind Locked Doors, Part I Please come out and greet the guests. It’s rude to stay in your bedroom when we have company. Open up. I want to show you a new dress. Don’t you want to see my new dress? Your grandmother called today. I sure miss her. When you’re older you’ll regret this. You’ll regret having me stand behind your door like a beggar, and you’ll miss me more than I now miss my mother! Let me in! Why won’t you let me in? Please unlock your door! Damn this country! Is this what they teach you here? Is this what they teach you! Growing Up The patent leather shoes, with the thin strap and buckle, cut through both ankles, and stained my white tights. On Eating We gathered around the dinner table, my three brothers, mother, father, and me. My father cooked steak and potatoes that evening. I knew they didn’t expect me to eat because for almost a year, I had stopped. Dad cooked only five pieces of steak. And when I reached for one and put it on my plate no one questioned. I cut it into ten tiny pieces and put a tiny drop of ketchup on each one. The meat was well cooked and tender. I chewed slowly, counting to twenty-five each time. Please, take my piece, my mother said to my father. But he refused. Don’t worry, he said. He ate only the potatoes . After chewing the tenth bite, I went to the bathroom, stuck two fingers deep inside my throat, and threw up my meal. This is how I started eating again. It took a while to learn how to keep things inside. Lara Hamza 131 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 131 ...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781610752060
Related ISBN
9781557288677
MARC Record
OCLC
769187839
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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