In June, a just-born bird trips headlong from its nesting bed.
We feed the barely feathered bird with worms and bits of food stuck
at toothpick ends, craft a makeshift nest from a plastic cup.
On the windowsill, the fledgling lives. Sings a day or two—then stops.
We hear the stories of Beirut deaths.
Outside Dunkin’ Donuts a man named Ali shoots himself.
First, he staples a cedar flag to a record free of crime, then leaves
a note in letters large and red: I am not a blasphemer, he writes.
It’s not suicide that it unholy—, says a familiar song, but hunger surely is.
In July, close to noon perhaps, we drive north along Damascus Road.
Paul’s route of revelation.
Wayside, mid-route, a man has parked his dusty truck.
As we pass, I turn to see him kneel on an unrolled rug.
Mid-July. The heat climbs towards its peak.
We aren’t meant to be here still. Near my in-laws shaded door, a man
is mounted to a wall. How come I never noticed him before?
He lies flat, clothed in marble chiseled folds.
A cheek rests near an open hand. In the haze midsummer he sleeps
his quite death with open eyes of stone.
Evening early August.
I lead our dog to the tired patch of grass by the roses.
Highway’s constant hum is broken by a sonic shudder, the sky breaks
into splintered shards. Air assault—? We run.
Take refuge in the garage while over Beirut red smoke clouds rise.
Late August and rhythmic chants pulse from speakers of St. George church.
I go outside to listen.
Sea breath lifts the leaves of willow, eucalyptus, oak.
Spume-trails follow a fishing boat.
And near a jetty, people swim in the polluted bay.
Through cherries and figs, we stay.
As the crimson flesh of watermelon loses its sweetness, we stay—
for the season of red grapes, and as afternoons turn overripe.
The cicadas grow silent.
Through the swells of departures, we stay, to the time of reaping at hand.
Laura Johanna Braverman
Laura Johanna Braverman is a writer and artist. She is the author of Salt Water (Cosmographia, 2019), and her poems have appeared in Reliquiae, Verse of April, North of Oxford, Plume, Levure Litteraire, California Quarterly and New Plains Review, among other journals and in the anthology Awake in the World, Volume II. Her painting works are currently on exhibit at Mina Image Centre, Beirut. She is a doctoral candidate in poetry at Lancaster University, and lives in Beirut with her family.
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