“The Apple of Granada” and Other Poems, by Hedy Habra

The Apple of Granada  

Some say Eve handed a pomegranate to Adam, and it makes sense to me. How can the flesh of an apple compare to the bejeweled juicy garnets, the color of passion, hidden under its elastic pink skin tight as an undersized glove, a fruit withholding the power to doom and exile since the dawn of time. For a few irresistible seeds, didn’t Persephone lose sight of the sun for months? I mean, think of the mystery hidden in its slippery gems, of the sweetness of the tongue sealing the union with the beloved in the Song of Songs. And I succumb, despite how messy it is to crack the fruits open, invade that hive, oblivious to the indelible droplets splattering the sink, reaching beyond the marble counter all over my arms and face, as my fingertips delicately remove its inner membranes, until the bowl is filled with shiny ruby red arils. I add a few drops of rose and orange blossom water, the way my mother did, and my grandmother used to do, and her mother before her.  

First published by Cumberland Poetry Review
From Under Brushstrokes (Press 53 2015)

Or Didn’t She Tell You She’s Been a Mother For Too Long?
		After Celestial Pablum by Remedios Varo

And now with her children on their own, she plans their visits ahead rehearsing their favorite seafood dishes and entrées. She would set the table with candlelight, displaying the amethyst, turquoise and moonstone grapes her husband once brought back from China. She remembers how she always prepared their baby food from scratch and misses nurturing them. To ensure the passing of time, she dreams of catching the waning crescent with a butterfly’s net. She’d spoon feed its weakened light with a concoction spiked with crushed stars. Yes, she was an expert grinder, skilled in everything meant to please the palate. 

First published by The MockingHeart Review

What’s In A Cup?

To see the world in an upturned cup, 
	    watch your whole life unfolding,
I will make you Turkish coffee.

	    Let’s drink it almost boiling, a ritual,
sip every drop like nectar, turn the cup over
	    then leave it up to me to decipher

the coffee dregs configurations.
	    See, there is a tree firmly rooted, 
twisting in pain, relentless beaks

	    tearing its branches like Dante’s suicides.
See these parallel lines, they are escapes
	    from your torment, trips you took in dreams.

See how they rise like volutes of smoke, free of fear?
	    See the fish flying in the air? 
This is money you will cash soon, very soon.
	    See these narrowing paths barred at the top?
Obstacles will slow you down, but good news
	    defile endless like a procession of ants. 
	    Now with eyes closed, conjure up 
each image engraved in your cup 
	    as if it were precious crystal. 

First published by Pirene's Fountain
From The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019)

Open-Air Cinema in Heliopolis

You used to say, mother:    
“Let me see your face when lit 
by a crescent moon: 
every day of the month               
will smile the way you do.”

We saw double-feature movies 
in open-air theatres. 
The cool breeze ran through our hair,
over our necks, lifted our skirts,
swayed us in a magical carpet.

Tempted by vendors chanting 
Greek cheese and sesame breads, 
we often stayed, sipping icy lemon 
granitas through replays, the lift 
and pause of cascading light. 

Characters entered our own 
camera obscura. 
We never agreed on their age: 
you added a few years,
I wanted them closer to mine.

I remember a recurrent scene, 
fading now into a sepia cameo,   
where a woman--always the same
yet different--slaps a man
before falling in his arms.

I watched your face then, 
as stars outlined the sky,
the  slight opening of the lips,
the Gioconda’s elegant smile 
you allowed yourself, 
befitting the sfumato of the late hours.

Arm in arm, we walked home, 
following the trail of the moon. 

First published by Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts
From Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013)


Trapped in his backyard,					
an old man							
thinks of cafés,						
backgammon games, dice					
thrown over inlaid wood.					
Fingertips folded 						
on an empty palm, hand 					
recapturing the lost motion, 				
he draws on his pipe,					
reviving crackling embers, 				
attentive to the divas' deep					
vibrato, Feyrouz, 						
Sabah, Om							

He breeds canaries 
in a shed, feeds them egg
shells, slices of apple.  
Each dawn, he hangs 
cages on the trellis 
overlooking the swing
waters his vegetables,
precious seeds 
flown from far away, 
curled cucumbers,
a special vine from Lebanon
its silken leaves
fit for stuffing. 

Rolling patience beads 
made of coral, 
he sits for hours 
under the covered porch.
Lips stuck to the tip 
of the painted pipe, 
he thanks the Lord, 
his grandchildren 
would live free 
in the New World.  
Does it matter if, 
his soul sinks
in an iridescent flask,  
blown into eddies of smoke?
Eastern voices mix 
with the birds' song, Sabah, 
Om Kolsoum, 

Carefully kindling coals
with tongs, he watches
arabesques, swirls emerging 	
from underwater, imprisoned 
in the blown glass,
bursting at the surface,
deafened words 
of a drowned Phoenician sailor.

First published by Curbside Review
From Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013)

Insomnia in Sorrento 

We walk on the soft humid sand, shining under the moonlight,  
see our footsteps disappear like words afraid to touch our skin.
We sip our limoncello certain that the moon squeezed itself 
in each glass, rich and pulpous, oozing zest. We hear the seagulls 
cry in the dark, screeching like alley cats mating. Warm waves 
lather our feet, foam lightens the volcanic black soil. I think of 
our visit this morning to the lemon grove, how we ran our fingers 
over the rugged globes’ scented skin while trees grow around us, 
circling us, pregnant moons hanging from their branches.

First published in Pirene’s Fountain 
From Under Brushtrokes (Press 53 2015)

Hedy Habra is a poet, artist and essayist. She has authored three poetry collections, most recently, The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019), Winner of the Silver Nautilus Book Award, Honorable Mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and Finalist for the Best Book Award.Tea in Heliopolis won the Best Book Award and Under Brushstrokes was finalist for the 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. Her book of criticism, Mundos alternos y artísticos en Vargas Llosa, examines the visual aspects of the Peruvian Nobel Prize Winner narrative. A sixteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the net, and recipient of the Nazim Hikmet Award, her multilingual work appears in numerous journals and anthologies. https://www.hedyhabra.com/

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