Immigrant Daughter Ghazal

by Lynne Bekdash
I weave a stallion from the threads of memory I’ve left looped between years, criss-crossed across years like telephone strings left looped.  Lemon and tomato boil in the kitchen, yellow and red in smell as sun rises over the schoolyard and the old Peugeot, bronze-beaten and trashed, its floor fills with cassette tapings left looped.  “Named Leen, after the palms.” Baba asks me not to pick the yasmeen, says the seasons blend concrete now. From flowerless spring to flowerless spring, we find Beirut’s grimy-pretty springs left looped.  Ramadan: Umar and I lean over a carton and lift the wrinkled skins of dates to our lips like prayers. For shame—! I should pray upstairs on the ornate rug drawings left looped.  Guns cackle but there is time still to hoard water in the bathtub, time to scramble for Suria, time to pull over on the highway by the border before driving again. On the ground: pissings left looped.  The boys whoop and holler that we are maliks of the mountain up here, and we are. We are above the blood on our shins that we don’t bother stemming. After all, we still have shoestrings left looped.  I lick the metal of Teta’s balcony, I grip the metal. The Arabic on the salon’s sign drips neon, but I refuse to snatch that light from my lashes, to wipe my eyes of drippings left looped.  The AC shutters off from three to six AM—lights, too. Bugs kiss my thighs deep in the dark I rise I watch I breathe I breathe I breathe I drink this air like I can fly on wings left looped.  First, make your lips sticky with cheese doused in orange blossom syrup. Then: drink. Drink from the mountain, kiss one spigot to link yourself strong to stone, to springs left looped.  This city is a wedding song, this city is a dirge, this city is Fairouz’s voice grows old and the whole city dances arms-closed in each other’s arms to cassette tapings left looped.  Baba tells me that Leen, the Arab poets always started with horses, even in love poems. So I ride mine beautiful up and down America for palm tree shade, my lookings left looped.
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