I Should Have Combed Her Hair
My grandmother had
the most beautiful, long,
grey-blue silver strands
of hairShe wore
her hair in lengthy braids,
then coiled like a wreath
around the base
of her neck. On occasion,
I'd happen by her room,
her sitting, on the nearest side
of her bed, in her nightgown,
hair freedfrom tight braids,
exposed, not bundled
up, not hidden, under
her black chiffon scarf,
her blue-grey hair, hanging
free, flowing down
her porcelain shoulders,
a painting, a woman,
a wife; this image
as I wishI had spoken
to her, more
oftenabout her youth,
her selfher life
as a young woman,
as a young widow
All she was
At the end
was always shut
I was so young.
All the years
when she had me.
This was hismother.
And me, a teenagerwhen
she was 80. As a writer,
I am haunted.
As a granddaughter,
I am haunted
by such beauty. I keep
to myself of happening
by or going into her room.
Herwith her thick, long
of age, and rippling
in waves, down
towards the bed,
touching the flowered
sheets before braiding
such hair; the beautiful,
of her handI should have
to her, though she
did not speak
Her country, hidden,
in her mouth
On September's eve, I wondered why
there was joy and light inside
the dim-lit kitchen at night;
all day I'd proclaimed, tomorrow
is September, the secret lies there,
in that sibilance. At night, I almost forgot,
the end of August was near
something like an hour and some minutes outside that frame, who would not celebrate,
even in the subconscious, the nearing
end of summermy house awaits me, nearer that light, the season of a homing,
the hope of the orange trumpets on the
backyard vine, just beyond my Pride
of Barbados, flowering bush
The sky is not black but bluedark purple, aubergine, night blue, and the stars
Milky Way stitched like that, celestial ladder, Father of forms, arced over the hills, over
the flat fields, over mounds of earth. Star-sky settles, above and across, every night
To gaze at it, at the hour of standing, still
for a whileYou, looking up. You can
almost see itmove, the slow spin of space
keep your head up, see night lit, nothing more
beautiful, nothingmore realyou are
the axisthe unmovingaround which,
the planetary turning, slowmoves
Stay still, at least, long enough to see,
the slow rotation, the sky's slow animation,
The Morning After
I remember hospice washing the body.
I recall the ketonic scent of him, two nights before his passing, as he sat at the edge
of his hospital bed, in the denme with my bad kneeholding him up. The heart is stronger than the limbs. Daddy could not
sit upWe took turns holding. He moaned. And when I began to sing a childhood
song he sang to us as we learned to walk
I rocked and soothedmore than a whisperI think he felt the vibration of my voice. My beloved strongman, gone quiet. And
the beautiful absence of moaning. My shirt smelled of his sweet scent. The way ketones release flowers into airpreparing for
burialpreparingfor resurrection. Cristo
ha resucitado. And my father with him.
My sweet mother foldedinto herself
soon afterIrfeekit umray. Friend of my life, he called her. Through hard days and easy.
17 when he asked for her. 18
when they marriedMy great beloveds.
No other love like thisI have for them
purefull of awe and gratitude
and memory beyond memory. As if I knew them foreverbefore I was born
and after; I only recognized them then.
"Yellow buds of
the desertbirds of
paradiseat the end
of which spirits without
age slept, with their
crowns on the table."
Sun surprised in its golden descending.
Behind me, Shems announced, wordless,
that it was over
The day, and the chances. For completion
of intentions. When we tryto formulate
the way, and what hours
should carry, we can only ply so much. Sometimes, the wheel turns, easily.
Yesterday, the day was
easy, perfection, placed, aligned
under planets, themselves, aligned. If we
could only be
planetary, knowing our places, our rotation into and out of it, the day, the hour, the fireI would be Saturn, turning
its Titan moon, made for "winged flight"
my brotheronce said, You like to fly, to be free . . . not so hard to see
Or I, or you, could be, Enceladus, made for reflection, yes, let's be that, made
Maybe we can bebothreflective and
free, winged, orlet me be Dione, moon
made of water
Flight, reflection, a sea inside a moon. Sun, began its descending, its announcement
that dayis done
and all the efforts in it. Sun speaks, often, wordless. Schemmes. Shems. Sun. Star
Kawkab, in my mother's language. Kawkab,
a planet. My mother is a planet. My mother
is a star.
Shemmes: Hebrew for sun
Shems: Arabic for sun
Kawkab: Arabic for planet, star
This was written at sun's lowermost moment, as it skimmed the lower surface of the wall, quickly, it glowed, warmed, then fled.
Marian Haddad is a poet, writer, manuscript & publishing consultant, private writing mentor, lecturer and creative workshop instructor. Her collection Wildflower. Stone. (Pecan Grove Press, 2011) was endorsed by Pulitzer poet Yusef Komunyakaa. Haddad's chapbook Saturn Falling Down (2003), was published in correlation with Texas Public Radio's Hands-on Poetry workshops, and her full-length collection Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home (Pecan Grove Press, 2004) was a Small Press Notable Book.
Haddad's poems, essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in literary journals and anthologies within the U.S., Belgium, the U.K., and the Middle East, including Crab Orchard and Kenyon Review Online. An NEH recipient, she holds a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso and an M.F.A. from San Diego State, where she was associate editor for Poetry International, Vol. III. Haddad has taught creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake and Northwest Vista College, and International and American Literature at St. Mary's University, and conducts workshops nationally and internationally. She is a native El Pasoan, having lived in Boston, San Diego, and now in San Antonio for 21 years.