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Deema K. Shehabi Deema K. Shehabi was born in Kuwait in 1970, to Palestinian parents. She came to the United States to attend Tufts University, where she studied history and international relations, and also earned a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Her poems, widely published and translated into Arabic, Farsi, and French, search for “the interconnectedness” that results from “exile spaces of youth and adulthood.” She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and two sons. Portrait of Summer in Bossey, 15 Years since Her Death 1. When debris dissolves in the morning breeze, I arrive to the house of half-breed poplars, and my child says, God lives at the far end of lightning— but here there are only rock shadows, arching clouds, and we bend and open to last night’s visitor: my mother on alabaster stairs, saying she has uncovered Gaza in desiccant cracks of the earth. Her stories are currents that glide out of her, gliding like my father as he returns from towing the mountain behind him— my bedroom window is wide open, the earth is reeking of shallow sleep, and he says, There is no God but One. 281 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 281 2. What labors through shallow sleep? What aches in my mother so that she bows her dark ochre head to the lyrics of Sabah Fakri: It’s been too long: I miss you as you are the light of my eyes, eyes belling with water, as they followed her father who walked to the podium with flowers strewn at his feet to unveil Gaza’s first statue of liberty. It later crumbled in the square— first its long plaintive shadow, then the blue hush of the crumble, but she is not sure what salted the roots of his heart: the death of her young sister or field upon field of exile—he walked for weeks until he reached the border of Lebanon, the sky rearranging the evidence of place behind him: So I told her: let no guard stand in our way. You’ve lighted my night, you most loved of visitors. 3. Is this the calamity of roots? Are these the bleeding minutes, the choked tendrils of love surrounding our life? I tell my father that when she died, her oldest brother carried a faint smile and said: angels have brief respite on earth, but my father is too solemn for stories tonight. Tomorrow they will chop down the blue-green spruce she planted— it obstructs the view of the Geneva fountain from the terrace, the fountain that purred and spun, suddenly attacking passersby, my mother slipping, her children and friends in slivers behind her. For days, our bellies lunged towards laughter, but my father is inaudible in the rain-lift of a night’s storm. 282 Deema K. Shehabi 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 282 4. I carry her voice within me like all the living carry the retreating voices of their dead, those white breaths that we seldom hear unless we’re afflicted: our arms swollen with water, our breasts bleeding and blistering, the darkgray shred of our lungs. Then other words sewn into our mouths until the time comes when they are unthreaded. The blunt sobs of her oldest brother bending and opening every doorway of the house. Her body washed in the full light of afternoon. Are these the captured shapes of love? 5. Were it not for the sudden blue-green gaze of sky, I would have asked my father for a story, and he would have told me he’s known love. 6. In the beginning, my brother and I plowed like Vikings through the village of Bossey, finding the smoky dungeon where the Duke tucked his enemies away from sunlight’s unquieting script on the horizon, from the scent of old, bruised apples hidden beneath paper-soft trees, and from the rows of crimson rows shrubs that atoned for all the violence it took to make this place as beautiful as legend. We ignored the sky as it crushed water on the blades of crosses, the blades bending and opening. My brother and I chased sparrows that flew towards the mountain. Later, we fell into the grass, beneath billions of moon shards, our parents sitting on the terrace, their sentences unthreading the dark. Deema K. Shehabi 283 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout...


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MARC Record
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