Fall Issue 2022
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
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
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,
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 hedyhabra.com