Monday Jun 24

Habra Poetry Hedy Habra’s third poetry collection, The Taste of the Earth, is forthcoming from Press 53 (2019). She has authored Under Brushstrokes, finalist for the USA Best Book Award and the International Poetry Book Award, and Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the USA Best Book Award and finalist for the International Poetry Book Award. Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention and was finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. A fourteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, her work appears in Cimarron Review, The Bitter Oleander, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Cider Press Review, Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Mizna, World Literature Today and Verse Daily. Her website can be found here.

How My Father-in-Law Harvested Olives in Tucson
When he first settled, he was struck by the number
            of olive trees in the neighborhood
and the indifference faced by their laden boughs.

                        He went from home to home, knocking at each door,
asking if he could pick some of the sun-ripened
            olives hanging low on branches.
“You’d be doing us a favor, these trees are so messy!
                                    They’re going to waste anyway.”
A basket under the arm, he did his rounds, wearing
            a proud smile as he’d bring home his harvest.
He’d cover them with water, changing it daily
                                    till it came clear of bitterness.
Then, he’d delicately smash their firm skin one
            by one in a stone mortar before stacking them
in tall jars, adding salt and vinegar, slivers of lemon,
                        garlic cloves, oregano sprigs and lots of olive oil.

Smoking his narguileh in his backyard,
            he counted the days for the olives to be cured,
reminiscing of the orchards of his youth,
                        of the way the breeze wafted through waves

of silvery leaves, breaking the light into mirrored
            reflections before blossoms were even formed.
Eyes closed, he could feel the air heavy with laughter,
                        redolent of jasmine and orange groves.