Zeit wa Zatari by Tala Rahmeh

A woman read
my coffee cup
told me I’d find you
stubble of the Arab man
heart of a knight
following a prophet
believing in god
and a woman’s eyes.
I looked and looked
swept alleyways
climbed stairs.
Thought I would
live without you
go to sleep
the rest of my life without
you. Then you
showed up and I started
eating cherries again
days got so much shorter,
longer, without you
and I thought we were back home
in the shadow
of a lemon tree heavy
with late summer fruit.
And I thought
we are not
we live in a tent
and have one light,
and what if they take
you away from me
like they took my country?
What if they push you against walls, 
shove you across cells.
shave your beautiful head
Or my heart?

Because they could.
I’d look for you again
everywhere and
never find you
convince myself I never had you, 
and stare at your pictures
looking for signs that you did not
love me so the ache lining
my stomach doesn’t hurt. 
and I would scream,
and you would shake me awake,
we would pretend that I
have not lost fragments
of my mind. 
and you would still hold me
in the crushing heat
of Jordan’s desert.


Contributor Notes

Tala Abu Rahmeh is a writer and translator based in New York. Her poems have been published in a number of magazines and books including Naomi Shihab Nye’s Time to Let me In: 25 under 25, LA Review of Books, 20*20 magazine, Enizagam, 34th Parallel Magazine, Blast Furnace, The Timberline Review, and others. Parts of her memoir-in-progress were published in “Beirut Re-collected,” published by Tamyras Publishers and available in both French and English, and her poem “Pomegranates” is forthcoming in “Ghost Fishing: An Anthology of Eco-Justice Poetry”. Her poem “Cape Cod,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.