at first purely colloquial, the massacre. only
small niceties, articles, maths. merci. le, la.
mille. schools went up at once like sails. blue
roadsigns christened the seaside, the valleys.
markets offered porc, canard. the libanais
were flattered at the effort initially, then
overwhelmed. they were cheeky. learned well.
they printed their revolution brochures
she murmured such zikrayat in a dream once
to me. she was younger & emboldened, her pout
nursing a cigarette, sunglasses peeking from
a patterned écharpe. she had been buried for
a year. in heels, she reenacted the frenchmen
asking if she was french & her, tickled, crying
jamais! knowing they couldn’t have understood
the bedrock of abadan, close to abandon,
meaning not never but ‘no way
zikrayat — arabic, ‘memories’
(appetency, desire; شهوة)
girl, call all this shahwa again with your namesake
mouth; i will release my grudge like a weakened fist.
say it’s practice for your groom. or dispel the boredom
of our afternoons. or drink until the protest sleeps.
crush the apple against your teeth. the froth hangs
semilunar from your chin, tart & fleeting as the unready.
barefoot on the balcony, drop your pail to the vendor,
who cries the names of his harvest like the muezzin.
buy your grandmother burlaps of cystic turnips to pickle.
they blush pink in the jars you twirl, knocking in aquatic gravity.
winter will arrive with its usual cravings. vinegar of the
unseasonable held past its prime. salt thick, rubber as muscle.
your palate succumbs to pleasure crested pricks. your tongue
sores, unfolds in its red canopy bed. eat until you are full.
then sob. salvage. appetite is an eye that does not
stop itching, inviting again your curled hand.
Ghinwa Jawhari: "I am a Lebanese-American writer based in Brooklyn, New York. My chapbook BINT was selected by Aria Aber for the 2020 Own Voices Chapbook Prize, and is forthcoming from Radix Media (March 2021). My work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Mizna, The Bangalore Review, and others. www.ghinwajawhari.com."