Sunday May 26

Tuffaha Poetry Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is a poet and translator of Palestinian, Jordanian and Syrian heritage. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she has been published widely in American and International journals including The Lake for Poetry, Borderlands Texas Review, the Seattle Times, Kenyon Review Online, James Franco Review, Lunch Ticket, and Mizna. In 2015, her poem “My English Teacher Tells Me” was a finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Prize. Her first book of poems, Water & Salt, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Lena translated the screenplay for “When I Saw You” a feature film written and directed by Annemarie Jacir, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival in 2012 and won many awards, including the Berlin International Film Festival’s Best Asian Film. Lena earned a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature at the University of Washington and is an MFA candidate at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She lives in Redmond, Washington with her family.

Between Storms

Descriptions of snow are all aspirational,
a blanketing when the truth is so cold it stills
every atom, a shuddering of water,
a crystalline death. The stretch drinks
the light from our eyes,
strips the heat nestled between stones.

Soundless is the snow, a breath
swallowed then no exhale.
Covering of lips --
parted to pray or protest.

Wrapped in woolen shawl
my grandmother navigates her house by memory,
once in a while reaching out
for reassurance,
fingertips traversing a wall.

Light filters in more slowly now  
her lapis lazuli eyes dreamlike
as they darken,
her world a mosaic of fragment and shadow.

She senses the white expanse,
listens for transfers of slender oscillations.
Clamor of swifts in the lemon branches,
call of the kerosene sellers from their flatbed trucks,
thrum of hourly news reports
all fall away.

My footsteps nearby make a clumsy announcement,
my heartbeats brash, reverberating.
I have fewer years of listening for what comes our way.
“Soon enough we’ll know.”

My grandmother pulls the drapes aside,
looks beyond the snow.
“When I was a little girl
we mixed pomegranate syrup and sugar
and poured it on snow
and ate it with a spoon.
Only the fresh snow.
It’s too late now.”

I imagine her smile ruby-stained,
tremble of memory lingering.
the fresh scar of pomegranate
blossoming beneath her hands.

On the rooftop my husband
dusts snow off the satellite dish.
The lemons on the old trees are lanterns
in a timeless terrain
of waiting.