Jessica Abughattas


Sing me an Arabi song you know—the one
         where wind and love

mean the same—song of the sugary night
         and tray upon golden tray

of minty tea—the song of my baba
         poised over a boiling breek

song of the ’87 benz with his scent
         of coffee black and marlboro

old spice—cardamom song
         of mamas and babas
    still together—

the stolen kitchen kiss—that song where we lay

still together
         amid the olive groves
and the air is thick with possibility

         while off somewhere the babas smoke
and the mamas read fortunes        

in blue ceramic cups—in the shapes
         their kahweh leaves—

where the hometown girl lights up
         like an emerald
when the lovers are hoisted up

in two white chairs

         and the lovers are us—
the one where the diva sings

I don’t want to fall in love
and she really means I do—


I was five years old
suspended between fire and water
when you showed to me in the magazine the bodies
and sat in the secret dark while the party went on
loud outside without us

I remember when I would touch
my own body
I didn’t know
I had a body

I could only see it from above
suspended in the speckled ceiling
a blackbird watching
the sinister tangling of shadow
that you consumed

a magazine, a memory

is this why
I inspect the women
the how shapes of their collarbone
and the way they breathe in the night

and is this why
I suspect the parties
why I can never seem to relax when there’s
dancing and darkness

is this why

I can’t believe sometimes I have a body
like the propelling ribs of a magazine
like the black and white twist of navel
how it stands slender and woman
in these elastic rooms of prayer
where the strangers cast wishes upon me
a reeling explosion
in the infinite dark you made

Jessica Abughattas is an American poet of Palestinian heritage. Her latest work has been published or is forthcoming in BOAAT, Muzzle Magazine, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Journal, Tinderbox, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Antioch University and lives in Los Angeles.