When we were younger, we’d lean against the flowered sofa, our eyes fixated on the movements of Siti’s frail hands. Mesmerized, we’d watch as she massaged one month old Ali, as the olive oil would seep into the deep creases of her hands, like the rings of a tree, an indication of bittersweet age. Her youngest grandson, whom we called Aloushi, lay on the patterned rug, squirming beneath her touch. She’d continue to massage him in the olive oil, then wrap his tiny torso with the white cloth of fuschia and turquoise stripes that babies are given upon hospital birth.
The carnival train, full of colors, clowns, animals, and one headless giraffe, barrelled towards the floor vent where Mrs. Macaroni stood, screaming a terrible ‘here comes the train’ out of its whistle. Mrs. Macaroni seemed glued to the spot, and when the train crashed into her thigh, she fell with a screech onto the linoleum floor, and breathed her last breath. Suddenly, Michael sprang to his feet from where he had been lying pantsless and shoeless mere feet away, saw Mrs. Macaroni lying on the ground, and screamed a heartbreaking and high-pitched ‘NOOO!’
He kneels on the pale marble floor,
she sits under the harsh white light
and the moment is pregnant with silence.
This house is clouded by a darkening night
and when my father starts to cry
my mother starts to scream.
The tears of hard years
carved mountains and valleys
like wrinkles across his face and hers.
In mending what is eternally broken
they have both shattered
and the rest of us are damaged, collateral
Talking with him is an open road with many different journeys
Talking with you is like a conversation with a shadowy figure that is scared to come out into the light
He looks at me as this sweet girl
You look at me as you would a project
But what you both fail to realize is that I am neither
I am not as kind and sweet as you think,
Matter of fact, I am just like you
Beneath this exterior, I am demon too
I am no project
I will never be poked and prodded
To be honest, I can hide just like you
become a mystery too
It can be liberating that people don’t know where I belong. Outside Dearborn, people see me as a Muslim Arab-American, but in Dearborn, my tan skin fits in with any culture, especially in the summer. I’m not too light to be mistaken for a Yemeni, not too dark to be mistaken for a Syrian, just in the middle. When I open my mouth, it perplexes people more.
“What dialect do you speak?”
“It’s called ‘Madani,’ it’s between Jordanian and Palestinian."
“You cheating bastard”, I heard my mother yell as I made my way up the sidewalk to our trailer, some single wide mobile home that managed to make it out of the 80’s. It was beginning to crumble around us as our makeshift family did the same. I pause outside of the front door not knowing what conflict I would be walking into.