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Hedy Habra



Was Any Household Ever Devoid of Mercurochrome?


I loved hiking and climbing trees in the mountains. We’d discover new caves, marking
our names on their soft chalky walls, and gathered wild oregano’s swollen spikes covered
with tiny white flowers. My grandmother dried them to make homemade zaatar.

Nothing was more common than seeing our scraped knees and elbows reddened by
Mercurochrome. The little bottle had a small swab that mom brushed delicately on our
wounds and scratches. We preferred it to the stinging iodine tincture that burned like fire,
leaving an ugly yellow blemish. Mercurochrome’s red stains had a yellow-green sheen
and metallic hues that we associated with blood and heroic feats.


When I was two years old I spilled boiling water all over my face, and my third-degree
burns were treated for weeks with Mercurochrome. At the time, right after World War II,
the red solution had garnered a great reputation amongst veterans, or that’s what my
mother always said, telling everybody that I don’t have any scars on account of that
miraculous remedy.

An Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove


Think of your aunt who runs her household--main de fer dans
un gant de velours.
Didn’t her husband take charge of the
laundry after suffering a few discolored shirts? And Cousin
Paul who still irons his shirts in his eighties? Why do you think
he only trusts himself? My mom would laugh about how she
first served overcooked beans to her husband. He’d say, don’t
worry, love, they won’t stay whole inside my belly, you know.

That’s how she got to be a great cook. Raising kids and
training a spouse are two sides of the same coin, or shouldn’t I
be saying these things in your extreme politically correct
times? But things are what they are.

Or What If You’d Enter this Thread with Your Own Perspective?


           Some say a poem is a lost feather,

a melting snowflake,

            or a slowing down of raindrops

piercing the pond’s surface

                        in concentric ripples.


Some even think unseen words

                        echo each other

            through wafts of air flowing

within ever-changing clouds

            and all we need is

wait in silence

             to capture their vibrations.


            But others might add that each

poem is a step towards death.

            A presence that is an absence.

The promise of appearance

            vs disappearance,

defying loneliness


Some see readers as voyeurs

            who peek through lines

                        to decipher the meaning                                 

hidden beneath ink strokes gliding

                        over fiber threads.


            While the blank page awaits signs

to come to life, we struggle

            to make that moment last,

                        keep recycling

the illusion of creating


as insidious drafts drift and swirl

                        like fumes fleeing

            through half-opened doors

and windows in search

                        for a truce enabling us

            to prepare for a fiercer battle.

Or What Did You Think Would Happen After You Were Gone?

                                                            After Kay Sage’s Catalogue Raisonné



There are times when even the sky feels like a ceiling preventing

flights from the mind


There are times when drapes attempt to escape the window frame

only to be pinned by an arrow aimed at a bird clothed in purple murex


There are times when sleeping on the deck of an abandoned wreck

isn’t the utmost homelessness


There are times when we need to listen to the language of fabrics

and strive to stay away from desolate gray


There are times when objects are taking over a landscape where

there is no one left to talk to

Hedy Habra has authored three poetry collections, most recently, The
Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019), finalist for the USA Best Book Award.
Tea in Heliopolis won the USA Best Book Award and Under Brushstrokes,
was finalist for the USA 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
fourteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, her work
appears in numerous publications. Her website is

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