Fady Joudah

Still Life

You write your name on unstained glass
So you’re either broken or seen through
When it came time for the affidavit
The panel asked how much art
Over the blood of strangers the word
Mentioned the weather and the sleepers
Under the weather all this
Was preceded by tension enzymatic
To the hills behind us and the forests ahead
Where children don’t sleep
In resting tremor and shelling
The earth is a pomegranate
A helmet ochre or copper sinks
In buoyant salt water
Divers seek its womb despite its
Dura mater
And it hangs on trees like pregnant mistletoes
I’ll stand next to one
And have my German lover
Remember me on a Mediterranean island
Though she would eventually wed
An Israeli once she’d realized
What she wanted from life
A mother of two
On the nose of Mount Carmel
Where my wife’s father was born driven out
My father’s hands depearl
The fruit in a few minutes add a drop
Of rose water some shredded coconut
For us to gather around him
He will lead his grandchildren out transfer
Bundles of pine branches in the yard to where
His tomatoes and cucumbers grow in summer
Let them let them
Gather the dried pine needles forever he says
They will refuse to believe the fire dies
And they will listen to his first fire
On a cold night in a forest of eucalyptus trees
The British had planted as natural reserve
Outside Gaza

Fady Joudah
“Still Life” first appeared in The Kenyon Review.