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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Poem: Zeina Hashem-Beck, Lebanese poet

 Louder than Hearts and Derbakkehs

The woman in me is thousands

of years old, her voice louder

than hearts and derbakkehs.*


She calls her children from the farthest

room in the house, screams, Yalla** or else,

says, Eat your food and be grateful.  Finish

your plate.  And despite all


the parenting books I’ve read,

the ones with instructions

like Talk calmly to the child,

Stoop down to child eye level,

she still comes out


yelling from her height

at my kids when they don’t listen.

She gestures, brings thumb and index together,

threatens them with Wallah wallah you’ll see,

never shows them.  She screams


across corridors, from balconies, in playgrounds,

across land-mine fields, broken houses, wastelands.


Some days I manage to put her to sleep,

light her a cigarette, or pour her

a cup of coffee.  Some days she boils

in my blood, says, Out of my way.

Some days I hold her in my arms,

rock her back and forth, let her cry.


*Derbakkeh – small Arabic drum

**Yallah – come on

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