Hedy Habra (Western Voices 2020)

Exclusive: Western Voices, 2020: Edited by Scott Thomas Outlar
Bio: Hedy Habra has authored three poetry collections, most recently, The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019), finalist for the USA Best Book Award. Tea in Heliopolis won the USA Best Book Award and Under Brushstrokes, was finalist for the USA Best Book Award and the International Book Award. Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention and was finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. A fourteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, her work appears in numerous publications. Her website is hedyhabra.com

Mid-April Snow, 2020

Some call it flurries. I prefer
            les derniers soubresauts
de l'hiver, a moribund winter's
            last jolts, refusing to give up
                        its last snow- flaked breaths.

            It's still breathtakingly beautiful:
 an anachronic realm
                        reminding us of our last
            moments, of how we resist,
                        thinking ourselves invincible,

how we long to make our autumn
            stretch, exercise our muscles,
balance our meals, try to finish
            our manuscripts in progress,
                        lest that winter be the last.

            This year in particular, I took
solace in daffodils sprouting
                        in the mud, indigo hyacinths'
            vivid arabesques, crisp as ever,
                        as though nothing had altered

the rhythm of nature. I didn't get
            to enjoy my magnolia's early
blossoms for long, a harbinger
            of hope whitening the naked
                        branches, its delicate flowers

            eager to dance to comfort the tree,
even before a single leaf emerges,
                        insufflating greenness. Head-bent
            under fluffy flakes, petals wither
                        at their birthplace awaiting
to be scattered by the wind.


Every morning my Nonna used to read the Gospel
in Arabic, oftentimes out loud, with perfect diction
and the deepest conviction.
I knew who to ask when I needed help with my
Arabic qawaeid grammar. My older brother helped
with my insha writing, but mostly with math.

During the long afternoons, she’d move from
her wheelchair to the sofa to read novels in French
by Delly or Max du Veuzit that I’d check out
from my convent school library.
I still remember the half smile she wore
as she immersed herself in alternate worlds,
allowed for once to daydream.

Married at sixteen and widowed at twenty-one,
her teenage heart must have beaten at the compass
of mine and I wonder if like me, she ever scrolled
down to the final pages to witness the characters’
only kiss. 

Don’t Think She Fools Me

Don’t think she fools me when she consults me for a broken wrist, a cut or a sore neck, does she think she fools me? I wonder...  Always complains when her period is late, when her nose bleeds, when it pours outside, when the phone is silent, then she wonders should she wear her strapless shantung blue dress tonight and how much she’d spend on her next trip to Vegas. She thinks I’m her seer, her healer, confidant, but I’m none of this, really, just a good friend, a patient listener. I’ve never said a word to convince or dissuade her, never came up with the right answer, yet she kept saying how instrumental I was to her sanity, I was so o oh important, she’d whisper when she’d bring me close, real close to her, lips rubbing my nose until I’d close my eyes and purr.

Or How the Mirrored Pond Suddenly Speaks

From my bedroom window,
I watch the rain sowing eyes
on the surface of the pond,

each drop drowning
inside maddened ripples
funneling vertiginously

into its murky bottom
each eye a fallen star sparkling
dimples over dark skin

its mutable constellations
redesigning an alphabet
for me to decipher.

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