Hedy Habra







The Abandoned Stone House in Damascus

Don’t ask me what side I am with!

          Don’t ask me about the outcome!


They say rain won’t wash the indelible blood splattered in the streets, the moans and cries of children resonate in my aching ears, filling each crack and corner of my heart. Will anyone open doors and windows wide, let the wind in to erase the bitter clouds of gunpowder? Faces smeared with dust and sweat all look alike, come and go as they please, their footsteps resonate in my temples as over worn out, stretched out drums. My walls yearn for the daily smell of freshly cut herbs, for the warmth of the hearth, the familiar sight of the iron pot hanging over glowing coals. Once, the simmering stew was singing with spices and children played under the shade of the olive tree. I can still hear their mother’s humming while separating lentils from stone.


(Originally published by Mizna, 2014)




Signs of Spring, 2011


Sunshine fires flakes,

                    crystalline needles,

          uncovers a glossy landscape of frozen tears

                    steeling timid tendrils’ first breath.

Bold hyacinths stick out

          jade periscopes

                    in albescent wilderness.  Even willows

          yellowing by now in Kalamazoo,

                    remain invisible,

pigments hiding inside each pore, eyelids

          heavy under coats of dried ochre,

                    a cloud of rust blurs bushes and brambles.

Oaks’ broken limbs still hang,

                    lassoed by last year’s

          vines shooting tentacles

around warped branches

          awaiting makeup from mushrooming moss.

                    Soon, chartreuse ink will unfurl,

                              twisting its woven net

          around dark distorted joints.

Elsewhere, all over Egypt,

          spring comes in the land of my youth

with thumping pace, feet roaring

                    in crowded squares, streets

resonating with raucous sounds,

                              shaking deep-rooted fears.

          Veins fill with the sap of freedom,

voices burst in vibrant flags,

          each poem carves tendrils

of hope in the air,

          words cling like vines,

                              climb spiral staircases,

coil over the tallest towers,

          each drop of blood

                    consecrates the ground,

          but no one bends to see how tender blossoms swell,

no one marvels at the pink and white oleander,

                    the lush crimson palette of bougainvilleas,

          no one notices

                    the way jasmine hedges infuse

the air, their sweet scent mixed with pungent

                    wafts of honey suckle,

          no one is soothed

                    by the enveloping perfume of golden

mimosa pearls in bloom.


(Originally published by Mizna, 2013)




Erasing the Memory of Fear


In awe, I watch on my television screen

how Egyptians openly storm the streets,

walk in throngs, chant in unison their

will for change, crowding Tahrir Square.


I still remember my youth, under rigid,

military rule, when lips were sealed,

when every wall had ears, when every

corner café, every restaurant table

remembered our conversations.


That was so long ago: we chose

to leave, hearts heavy with memories.

Others got used to the status quo.


From far away, I marvel at the power

of images, when throbbing hopes

brighten ebony eyes, raise flags,

press bodies against bodies hours long,

oblivious of hunger and discomfort.


No dissonant gestures break the ebb

and flow of their unified voice,

rhythmically shaking their reclaimed

mare nostrum.


A page has been turned. Men

and women want to write letters

of freedom on their children’s

foreheads, one by one,

cover the walls of their dreams

with glistening graffiti and sparkles,

erasing the memory of fear.


 (originally published by Pirene’s Fountain, 2011)












Hedy Habra is the author of a poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013) that was named finalist for the 2014 International Book Award, a story collection, Flying Carpets (Interlink 2013), winner of the 2013 Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention in Fiction, and finalist for the 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her multilingual work appears in numerous journals and anthologies, including Connotation Press, Poetic Diversity, Blue Five Notebook, Nimrod, The New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Diode, Cutthroat, The Bitter Oleander, Puerto del Sol, Cider Press Review and Poet Lore. She lives in Kalamazoo, has a passion for painting, and teaches Spanish at Western Michigan University.


Please visit www.hedyhabra.com




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