Lovers of asparagus, alive
as hummingbirds, place their nostrils
over a low cloud, wet of air.
It's the year of green hills
in California that early spring;
the evening is blue-split between the first
snow on the mountain top,
and a computer screen, where news of a man
whose body is eating itself, scythes
the long-stemmed breaths in the room.
"Do not weep if my heart fails," he writes.
"I am your son."

Gate of Love

Son I have. Your hands bulge
with pear tree blossoms.
You are bellow and sweat,
hunger and bread.
I part the fog to find you
through a grimy crowd of kids.
Before you give in to the affection
that soils you in public,
I'll promise you a truce.

Gate of the Sun

Bristling down the chemical-
scraped hall uttering
assalamu alaikums to the young
patients from the UAE, their heads sagging
to the side, their bodies a shrine
to tumors, husks of overgrown cells,
the chemo fountain. One boy
stares through a sieve
of darkness, hewn around dark-gray clouds.


Gate of Peace

"I have so many sons withering,"
I whisper to the Chinese elm, as news
of the man whose body is eating itself,
disputes with the bresola on crisp baguette
that I'm eating in a garden

among the flung-out
blue jays and limping Daddy long legs.
No hymns left;
only a small neck
the sun gnarls through.


About this poem:
"The poem was inspired by Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi's moral fortitude in the face of draconian detention. The rapid growth of children, the mediocrity and spontaneity of springtime, and a diminishing mother's role in her child's life are juxtaposed against larger tragedies such as death from disease and death from hunger."

Deema K. Shehabi

Copyright © 2013 by Deema K. Shehabi. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 10, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.