Poem-a-Day - "Vista" by Deema K. Shehabi

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April 25, 2022 

Vista

Deema K. Shehabi

What goes extinct while grazing on memory’s lawn in the sun? 
When you said, “I’d cut my tongue,” I grew a callus over your mouth.
Once, I tiptoed to catch a glimpse of you though I was not yours, 
but there was recognition through the window, my eyes knocking
on cleansed glass, as I closed further into sleep, into preludes,
away from you. Why am I speaking at all when what’s unsaid
between us is a rosette of moth wings, beating in the sky’s eardrum.  
I don’t flock to passions when I seek you; if all was taken, who would you be?  
Still, I know what I sensed as I watched you swim out from under the bridge
trying to sip the Pacific. If it wasn’t for the undercurrent, I’d have let
you go further, but the hour was a cool blue cluttered with your lips.  
There’s a story you know: it begins with your right hand over mine, 
as I practice my handwriting: I lay my alephs here, like ripe fruit, like a home away. 

Copyright © 2022 by Deema K. Shehabi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 25, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“The poem ‘Vista’ began when I noticed my child watching me apply kohl in a beach club bathroom mirror, and this triggered a memory of me observing my own mother apply makeup when I was a child. For a moment, I felt like I was in a time capsule. The poem then morphed into an exploration of temporality as a whole.”
Deema K. Shehabi

Deema K. Shehabi is a Palestinian American poet and the author of Thirteen Departures from the Moon (Press 53, 2011), as well as coauthor of Diaspo/Renga (Holland Park Press, 2014). She currently lives in northern California.

Thirteen Departures from the Moon
(Press 53, 2011)

“My Daughter All Yourn” by Farid Matuk
read more

“You Rode a Loop” by Rosa Alcalá
read more

Thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2021), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Nye’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year.
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