The world from my grandmother’s lap seemed brighter

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In the ebony of my eyes and the caramel of my skin,

My grandmother’s smile is pressed firm—

Her brown locks brush across my cheeks and she holds me tight,

Whispering untold secrets into my ears.

We share smiles that bridge time and make history—

I find myself folded into the depths and crevices of these smiles,

Wrapped up safe in 7aboba’s toob and her secrets.

She smells like fresh lemonade and white lilies and sandaliya, all at once.

She feels like home and sounds like comfort,

And looks so much like me.

Our eyes are shaped like almonds, but carry different stories:

Hers carry depth, having seen so much—

While mine have barely learned to recognize life.

But in our eyes there is a shared legacy,

And one day I will carry my son’s daughter,

Having seen as much as 7aboba did.

For now I am content to find comfort in her embrace,

In the familiar hands that hold me close,

Fingers stained with henna and just as strong as they are beautiful.

 

 

 

“Stitches”

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She remembers watching

Her mother run practiced

Fingers through, beneath

And over pieces of colored cloth

Her mother’s hands knew

Linens, silks, satins

Intimately caressing surfaces

And stitching patterns

That ran zig-zags across

The span of time

She remembers standing

Obediently while those

Same hands held up countless

Dresses up to her thin, child’s

Body, her mother’s pins

Hanging limply from smoker’s lips

She still recalls the way

The needle pierced where

The seamstress wanted it to pierce

The way patches of cotton

Would become her father’s shirts

She remembers how often

Her mind would turn to

Thoughts of loss

Whenever she saw those fingers

Deftly craft countless dresses

And infinite shirts

She sits now at the same machine

Not to make a dress

But wondering if her mother would know

How to stitch together pieces

Of a little girl’s broken heart

“A Cup of Tea”

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A tale to take you

to distant places

places where you

can be things you

never thought to be

a story to transport you

over seas and through mountains

bridging the gap

between the real and

not-so-real. Where else

can you find people

who understand

without you having to tell them

what you mean?

an adventure to captivate

the attentions of your

imagination. just you, a book

and a cup of tea

“Another year, gone” (to quote Albus Dumbledore)

Time doesn’t measure itself. We turn for the breadth of a second and suddenly a new year is around the corner, our resolutions once again overlooked, our skeletons still in the proverbial closet. It’s hard to believe that winter is already rolling in fast, and we have scarecely had a chance to experience fall. I’m willing to guess that even the trees (which should be used to nature’s clockwork by now) have been taken by surprise. The gold and red and yellow tints of their leaves have faded to a depressing brown, and the squirrels are busy darting from tree to tree, collecting their acorn stash.

We can’t do anything to stop time, no matter how often we “turn back the clock” during Daylight Savings. Time is the elephant in the room everyone goes out of their way to avoid, in an effort to try and sneak out the door without waking the beast. Time is the factor than no one dares to factor in, the element working against us even when it seems as though it’s on our side. The catch, of course, is that there’s nothing we can do to outrun it. It’s constantly there, standing over our shoulders and breathing its seconds and minutes and hours down our necks. Mastering time means finding that thing, that one thing, that makes it worth the effort. If we find what it is that makes us happy, that puts us in our element, then time becomes an aspect of our lives that we forget—just as we forget about the nights of our childhood when we insisted that our mother stay with us until we fell asleep, or the way we used to sit with our grandfather and watch the sun set over the river, witnessing the melting of colors in a pool of translucent reflections.

Forgetting that time lingers forever over life’s shoulder doesn’t guarantee that we will put our best efforts into our work. In order to create the best possible version of our stories, our paintings, our sculptures, our research—whatever it may be that makes us feel like we have a purpose in this world—we need to follow in the footsteps of perseverance. No task is more difficult than convincing ourselves that we must keep pushing, keep writing, keep painting. Or, as Ron Carlson put it, in the case of the writer: “You have to stay in the room.” Leaving the keyboard, telling yourself that you’re just going to get another cup of coffee and be right back, is the easy (the coward’s) way out. Staying in front of that screen, typing away even when your fingers feel like they’re going to fall off–that takes discipline. Unconsciously, we feel that we’re fighting against a silent enemy, a formidable element that will try to crush our efforts. Without giving it a name, (because that would mean addressing its presence) we know that time is there, so we push through, and we write, and we paint, and we sculpt, and we research, not paying any attention to the clocks that read things like 3 am because time, after all, is irrelevant.