Suspended in the Téléphérique above Harissa, I see our salt-white lady reach for Beirut. Language is both the cedar shade and mountain road, the bay licking the heels of Jounieh. My auntie teaches me the Arabic word for cat. My American tongue and bare legs say I’m Lebanese only in blood. She wants me to learn. If not for cables, we would drop to our deaths. If not for our blood, we’d be untethered. What saves us is the one small thing: a cable, a call to prayer, a new word strung like a pearl in the mouth of a girl.
After the Argument
We blur into shapes, our bodies like a question we keep asking each other. My wings fold down my back, slighted. I know somewhere in my chiseled heart I am vicious and unlovable, that you see me circling from an overpass and say: Look at the bird that only eats the dead. I dreamt of a tunnel dark as a feather. Our bed heavy with the dream, I woke you with my crying. I slip her name into my beak and fly off.
Ruth Awad is the Lebanese-American author of Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and she won the 2013 and 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Poetry, Poem-a-Day, The Believer, The New Republic, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, CALYX, Diode, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and she lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio.