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Volume 3 | Issue 2 | January 2009 | 

Fady Joudah

My hair, black now, was Achilles hair
When I was a child.
Or maybe Mamluk, maybe Crusader blood,

Though Napoleon could only throw
His hat at the walls of Acre—
Or maybe the ischemic morning

I rode the school bus
Heading for the desert on a field trip—
It doesn’t matter. My mother intuited loss

And stroked my head before I waved goodbye.
In the desert
I ate the figs my father had left

By my shoes the night before.
In the desert
Camels are ships

Parting asphalt, and the school bus
Smashed into them and killed
So many children aboard.

When the bus returned
Mothers filled the schoolyard
With wailing,

Smacking their cheeks,
Pulling their hair,
Counting their children.

But there were none missing.
It was only rumor. There was only
Nightfall and my mother, ready,

Wearing black, my hair now,
Maybe Canaanite or Bedouin,
Maybe Fatemah or Zaineb.









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