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Monday, May 17, 2004

Her Morning Coffee

Washing her coffee-rimmed mug
every morning…7:30,
her thank-you stared back at me
from a pool of stains in the basin.

Every morning,
her spectacles of tireless scrutiny
questioned me,
bribing with a pain
I felt satisfied existed.

Every 7:30
it was a different story
from a book of life,
she never entirely revealed.

They were told with compassion,
with tactless affection
and strained nostalgia
for all the other unwashed coffee mugs...

They dripped of a truth
alien to our world.
Compulsary details would sap the senses out of endless words...

Every morning,
Abu Tariq would heat the water.
By then, I'd finished washing.
The college corridors, cold & damp,
I & the pegion's chicks
on the unattended window sill
sat still to listen...

They smoked out of corrugated lips,
where cigarette ends
set fire to memories...

Charred with despair,
they persevered,
image after image
too out of reach,
for her spectacles to grasp...

Every morning,
she'd sip her coffee
look at me
& love me.

I'd be in them,
tales with disappearing tails...
Like coffee tricklings on moist mugs,
and cigarette butts in tissue-choked ashtrays...

She never smiled,
hardly a twitch of the lips...
Closing the door,
I'd glance behind...
She'd be murmuring to the pegion's chicks
about other morning memories...

This poem was written for Ms. Siba, in 1987. A Palestinian activist, her despondency had overcome her, but she still had hope that someday, there would be a Palestinian State...She knew it would not be in her time...

The smell of wheat-brown bread...

The smell of her,

I'd sniff

into and out of her,

as I would kiss her furrowed forehead.

The Images Triggered :

A small kitchenette,

and vegetable patch in front,

a small gas stove,

and bare brown shelves,

a tiny corridor,

as ample as the life she lead,

and memories mingled,

with the dust of the books stacked,

all around...

then out of nowhere, a Gustave Dore',

hanging somewhere above the staircase,

in it, a wide-eyed monkey,

staring at the slow-moving world underneath,

staring at her charcoal head,

revolving around

what should have been,

but never was...

Ms. Siba Al-Fahoum was a Palestinian professor who lived for the Palestinian cause, and died heart-broken with the way things have come to pass...She was brilliant, dedicated and passionate. At one time, a very close friend of the late Ghassan Kanafani -she was the last member of staff (at their small journal in Beirut) to bid him goodnight, before the morning after, when he was torn to bits in an Israeli-implanted car bomb in his garage. She was at one time, Abu-Amar's personal translator, but turned away, when her disappointment with his handling of the cause surmounted her frustration. She lived and died alone. She was as great as God could make a human.