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    Suleiman Mansour, Quiet Morning, detail

    To Be Plucked by a Strange or Timid Hand

    Two Poems

    Suzanne Harlan Heyd

    August 17, 2018
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    Hold On

    When you reap the harvest of your land, do not…
    gather the gleanings of your harvest.…
    Leave them for the poor and the foreigner.
    Leviticus 19:9 – 10

    This grip of patience, after the scythe
    cuts in. Most have dropped – relieved – 
    into gathering arms – brusque, adequate,
    but this foolish remnant holds their roots.

    Perhaps they have made this calculation:
    on the one hand, to become a clean-scrubbed
    loaf on the landowner’s table, surrounded
    by his ruddy children and their stout grins

    On the other to be plucked by a strange
    or timid hand, rolled right there for all
    to start at their plump kernels shed
    by unfluent palms, and the perfect snap

    of a willing seed between hungry teeth.
    For the meek inherit a happy earth.

    Suleiman Mansour, Untitled

    Suleiman Mansour, Untitled

     

    To Sing

    By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
    There on the poplars we hung our harps,
    for there our captors asked us for songs … of joy.
    Psalm 137:1–3

    Every harp hung on a poplar
    left a mute slew of fingers.

    There was still the bread-making, the
    laundry, the struggle with the tongue -
    twisted rope of the well. Later infernal
    socks to darn; still later typewriter keys.

    Those, of all, came close to singing.

    But even now, if you hold out your hands –
    nails up – you will see them tremble,
    ever so slightly. Like a tuning fork or
    vibratoed note, remembering, trying.

    Suleiman Mansour, Quiet Morning

    Suleiman Mansour, Quiet Morning

    Contributed By

    Suzanne Harlan Heyd lives with her seminary professor husband in Manila, Philippines. She has lived in Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Lebanon, and Iraq. She has an MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University and a forthcoming EP, “Remember Me,” with a handful of songs for the Middle East.

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