I Can’t See Qubeibah

For my grandparents, and the hometown I have never seen

Summer knocks at the door.
I can't see Qubeibah
or taste its melons.

Still, I remember the stories
of how you awakened
to the sound of ripe, red melons
popping in the field at night.
Each morning, you saw them
oozing like honeydew.

On the morning you fled,
you saw heaps of onions,
crying for you to return
and gather them up.

I close my eyes and imagine
running among the cornrows.
In glimmering light and deep shadows,
the stalks lined up like soldiers.
From far away I see their tassles,
swaying like pretty girls.

I imagine climbing the olive trees,
or swinging on grape vines
that hold me like a mother hen—
oh, my sweet mama—
while birds in the orchard
tweet their symphony.

The family gathers on rugs
loosely woven by your grandparents,
eating watermelons and goat cheese,
wrapping slices of fine cheese with bread,
like swaddling a baby.

I imagine us bleating at the goats,
as if to speak our gratitude,
and the juice of melons
running down our forearms.

Oh, I can hear our laughter,
like the singing of angels tickling my ears.

Far away now from Qubeibah,
I lie alone on the ground,
like a child tired of playing.

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Mentor: Kevin Hadduck

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