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Fady Joudah A physician with Doctors without Borders, Fady Joudah was selected by Louise Glück for the Yale Younger Poets prize for his first book, The Earth in the Attic. His poems have appeared in such journals as the Beloit Poetry Journal, the Kenyon Review, and Prairie Schooner and have received numerous awards and nominations, including the River City Poetry Award and the Pushcart Prize. He is also a translator. Of Mahmoud Darwish’s The Butterfly’s Burden, Marilyn Hacker writes that in Joudah, “Darwish has found a translator capable of rendering in English his unflinching, questing, and above all loving poems.” Joudah lives in Houston, Texas. Morning Ritual Every morning, after the roosters Crow back whatever prayers were passed Down to them that dawn From the keeper of their order up in heaven, I drink my coffee To the sound of squealing pigs Being bled to death In the market up the road—the same market Where I buy my fresh bread For my peanut butter and jam. The pigs Are bled through an armpit wound. You can see it coming throughout the day before, Hogs tied sideways to the backs of bicycles, Tight as a spine, going as far as the border Where the price is right. You will pass them On the asphalt to the town I get 165 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 165 The peanut butter and jam from. They know The bikeways out of nowhere And suddenly they’re alongside your jeep. I lie: only goats are taken to the border. The goats are bled differently, And skinning is harmless after slaughter: All you do is a vertical skin-slit Between the shinbone and Achilles’ tendon, Stick a thin metal rod Through it, up the thigh, pull it out Then blow, mouth to hole, Until your breath dehisces Fascia and dermis, reaching the belly: Your hands Should even out the trapped air. Between blowing and tapping The animal is tight as a drum. Now the knife that slit the throat. Who knows What you’ll need skin for. 166 Fady Joudah 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 166 At a Café I am still a Mohammedan hunched like a gibbous moon and veiled: outside, a woman who speaks clearly in order to be heard, right out of the parlor, nails trimmed and polished, afraid to pop open her diet Pepsi and damage the cuticles. I use my own teethtrimmed nails instead, and she thanks me. We’re at a café, not a mosque. And she makes it back safe to her jaguar, cell-phone in one hand and a sip in the other, speaking about the stone in the middle of her heart. The pain doesn’t radiate to the left shoulder, neck or jaw. The pain never causes her to break out in a sweat. Which means, I can do nothing about it. And the stone is so huge and exophytic only her legs and arms are visible. She’s a beetle flipped on her back, stone fungating out of her ribs. Nothing can hide her now, not even a Trojan horse. Sleeping Trees Between what should and what should not be Everything is liable to explode. Many times I was told who has no land has no sea. My father Learned to fly in a dream. This is the story Of a sycamore tree he used to climb When he was young to watch the rain. Sometimes it rained so hard it hurt. Like being Beaten with sticks. Then the mud would run red. My brother believed bad dreams could kill A man in his sleep, he insisted We wake my father from his muffled screams On the night of the day he took us to see his village. No longer his village he found his tree amputated. Between one falling and the next Fady Joudah 167 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 167 There’s a weightless state. There was a woman Who loved me. Asked me how to say tree In Arabic. I didn’t tell her. She was sad. I didn’t understand. When she left, I saw a man in my sleep three times. A man I knew Could turn anyone into one-half reptile. I was immune. I thought I was. I was terrified of being The only one left. When we woke my father He was...


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