Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
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Lisa Suhair Majaj


she’s  Cypriot (her father’s daughter)  
Palestinian (don’t lose the heritage)
American (was born here)

           look at that Arab  blood (skin eyes hair)
           Greek blood (skin eyes hair)
           American blood (skin eyes hair)           

what do you mean her name’s hyphenated?
don’t confuse things  keep it simple think of the child


she crawls into a lip of surf
            eager infant gyration  of motion
arms legs torso rushing toward the point of meeting
world held in suspension           

            low, late sun
           waves etched by late-flung light
           heat crystallizing to a salt wind
           white cliffs            echo of grotto waves
           nesting sea pigeons        wild whirl of wings
                        an exhalation of sky

no melody without single notes

a wave is only a wave in motion


on the bus from Haifa to Jerusalem
soldiers casually cradle their guns
even the air is taut
she leans her head on her father’s shoulder
held by his whispering voice
private cadence of Greek           
as he points out the window
            where your grandfather came from
            what he lost

(stone houses flicker by
light like a hand
pressing the land flat)


at eleven months she rises to her feet
legs splayed, weight shifting unsteadily
clutches a thread of invisible light
                        on either side

hands outstretched
            to every person culture place
            offering sustenance

palms open
smile open

one foot before another