Monday, 12 April 2021

Hiyam - Zeina Hashem Beck

My grandmother, Hiyam, whose name
means love, had none, gave none. Locked
her refrigerator door so her children wouldn’t
make a mess in the kitchen, sat them down,
fed them their sandwiches bite by bite until
they got bored and said they were full. Brushed
the tassels hanging from the sofa. Cleaned
the faucets until they shone like silver
flamingo necks. Beat anyone who ventured
to sit on the beds after they were made. Forgave
no one, not even her own skin. Drowned
herself a little more each day in the lake
of her mirror, dropped a pill, two pills, ten pills
in each morning—goodbye, goodbye,
most beautiful girl in Damascus. Retreated
when she noticed the wrinkles around her eyes—
first to the sofa, then into her bedroom, then into

her own mind. A week ago, she crouched
next to her bed, screamed
at the shadows to leave her alone,
told them she didn’t want to eat chicken,
promised her dead son she would tell everyone
he said hello, took off her clothes, accused
her husband of stealing her new skirt,
the one she had bought
twenty-something years ago—Where is it, she asked,
Why, you fool, did you take it away?
Calmed down when Mom arrived and told her
she’d taken the skirt to iron it, would bring it back
tomorrow. Went out on the balcony
for the first time in years, looked outside,
I know this thing. It’s called a street.

Zeina Hashem Beck (20th century) Lebanon

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