The Invented Mothers
There are mothers made out of yellow daisies
blooming near a grave. In Palestine,
a little girl presses her ear against her mother’s
tombstone, as if to listen — yalla tnam, yalla tnam,*
the lullabies of the dead are the most beautiful.
Striped school uniform, pink backpack,
blue wristwatch to keep the time,
for even after the dead, there are things to learn,
like reading, and maps, and minus one.
There are mothers made out of chalk.
In Iraq, a little girl sleeps inside
a drawing of her mother on the concrete,
the parent’s dress like a boat
big enough for her to sail in. For now,
even this waterless womb would do.
The child’s thick black hair spills
on the floor, which is her mother’s chest,
and somewhere, even after the cemeteries,
the trees put on their almond-flower dresses.
Zeina Hashem Beck