Hedy Habra

Hedy Habra is a Lebanese American poet, artist and essayist, born in Egypt. She has authored three poetry collections, most recently, The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019), Winner of the 2020 Silver Nautilus Book Award, Honorable Mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and Finalist for the Best Book Award. Tea in Heliopolis won the Best Book Award and Under Brushstrokes was finalist for the Best Book Award and the International Book Award. Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention and was finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Her book of criticism, Mundos alternos y artísticos en Vargas Llosa, examines the visual aspects of the Peruvian Nobel Prize Winner narrative. Dr. Habra holds a B.S. in Pharmacy from Beirut’s Saint Joseph University. She earned an M.A. and an M.F.A. in English and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Spanish literature, all from Western Michigan University where she has been teaching. A sixteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the net, and recipient of the Nazim Hikmet Award, her multilingual work appears in numerous journals and anthologies. https://www.hedyhabra.com

Missing Words

We both stared at the illuminated images 
of what must have been a rare book. Its pages 
seemed to turn on their own, one by one,
following the rhythm of our breath--were we so afraid
to touch its precious leaves?

I noticed faded characters here and there, like 
distant memories, missing lines rubbed away by fingers
or written in invisible ink, perhaps words never said,
unable to fall in proper order--could the writer or scribe 
have wished to light a match, imagined its fire racing along the
elongated curves of the phrase, erasing even the traces 
of his thought?

Then came an empty page, papyrus-like, arresting,
intimidating the one about to stamp it with the colors
of life--what ever happened to this page, I wondered,
realizing you were gone.


First published by Puerto del Sol
From Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013)

The Apple of Granada 

Some say Eve handed a pomegranate to Adam, and it makes sense to me. How can the flesh of an apple compare to the bejeweled juicy garnets, the color of passion, hidden under its elastic pink skin tight as an undersized glove, a fruit withholding the power to doom and exile since the dawn of time. For a few irresistible seeds, didn’t Persephone lose sight of the sun for months? I mean, think of the mystery hidden in its slippery gems, of the sweetness of the tongue sealing the union with the beloved in the Song of Songs. And I succumb, despite how messy it is to crack the fruits open, invade that hive, oblivious to the indelible droplets splattering the sink, reaching beyond the marble counter all over my arms and face, as my fingertips delicately remove its inner membranes, until the bowl is filled with shiny ruby red arils. I add a few drops of rose and orange blossom water, the way my mother did, and my grandmother used to do, and her mother before her.

First published by Cumberland Poetry Review
From Under Brushstrokes (Press 53 2015)
  

The Memory of Unspoken Words

She has landed on the deck of an abandoned wreck, fails to remember how she swallowed the fiery ball that pulled her like a tidal wave into the stillness of a metallic sky steeped in lavender where angry clouds hover around the drowning sun suffused with coral. Her pillow is a melted cloud filled with birds that forgot how to fly and now swim in a pool that overflows the deck, washing the souls of dead sailors from every leak and corner. She presses on her eyelids to find a different ending to their story, sees her body glow with scales and the fish in the pool grow wings. She knows every drop of water will vanish at dawn, erasing with black ink her luminous shape alive only in the formless night, and the rainbow will soon shine over a boat with discarded bags heavy with the stained memory of unspoken words and broken planks. 



First published by Pirene’s Fountain
From Under Brushstrokes (Press 53 2015)

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