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Hedy Habra

Why Are There Always so Many Heteroclite Persons in my Dreams? 


I entered an auditorium announcing a recitation of poetry in fifty languages. Suddenly a woman started humming and chanting in an unknown Slavic language. When we were summoned to take turns singing, I ran out to another room where Spanish was the norm. I followed two women who looked familiar, perhaps from an earlier conference. When I asked them about their field of research, they stared at me as though I was speaking gibberish. We're from Beirut, they said. I turned around and found myself in a courtyard covered with mosaics extending into corridors that led to the middle of nowhere next to a disaffected train station by the foot of tall mountains and gigantic ruins. I stumbled upon a young man who promised to take me back to where I would find my bearings. He took me to a crowded apartment from which I couldn’t leave. I said there was nothing to gain from my detention. After all, I was an old woman with no money who needed to be back to the city center with street lights and restaurants. But no one listened to me as though I were transparent. I woke up distressed as I realized I was only separated from safety by a thin veil.

Why Do You Think I Keep Sparkling Twigs After The Holidays?


A touch of sparkle remains on the green

skin of my rubber plant, over cacti

spiraling spines, a glitter only visible

by candlelight the way a subtle touch

of glamour appears on a shoulder,

a breast or a cheekbone.


I'd brush twigs with glue, sprinkle them

with silver dust and insert them into my

plants' foliage where they'd remain

a while longer, a reminder not to submit

to the illusion, or a way of holding onto it?


Our Christmas was spent in so many

houses, different faces and smiles

long gone surrounded an ever

changing tree:


            an artificial tree in Heliopolis,

                        a smaller one in Beirut,

            a tall one in Athens,

                        a real fir tree in Brussels

            a spruce in Kalamazoo.


In our friends' homes, each ornament told

a memorable story while we kept starting

ours from scratch. Could one envision

a cemetery of discarded trees buried

with memories of loved ones?  


You can still see sparkling twigs in my

planters, some from the last family visit:

a wink, or a poetic license to withdraw         

from linear time?          


Each silver speck would take me back

to Heliopolis. Year after year we'd build

our crèche with brown paper splattered

with ink and mercurochrome.


In lieu of snowflakes, a shimmering

mixture of flour, starch and water covered

the tiled roofs of the small cardboard

houses my mom made. A light bulb

glowed through windows in a purple halo.


Hedy Habra is a poet, artist and essayist. She has authored three poetry collections, most
recently, The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019), Winner of the Silver Nautilus Book Award,
Honorable Mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and Finalist for the Best Book Award. Tea
in Heliopolis
won the Best Book Award and was finalist for the International Book Award and
Under Brushstrokes was finalist for the Best Book Award and the International Book Award.
Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention
and was finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. A seventeen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and
Best of the net, and recipient of the Nazim Hikmet Award, her multilingual work appears in
numerous publications.

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