Teta and The Biscuit
by Sarah El Halabi
I am worried about everything
and the world is suddenly too large to carry
I want to hold with the nimblest fingers
a chipped coffee cup brimming with cardamom
a borrowed burning cigarette
a butter biscuit dipped and forgotten
sodden and saturated with the rising sun
I want to breathe in the cold air
let it sting for a minute
think of nothing else but my lungs
and the unhampered breathing
and the unhampered breathing.
Please do not ask me to be patient
Today, in Beirut thousands are still brushing the glass of their homes
or what is left of them off the streets
the country hangs posters of its youth and fumes and weeps
What happened to the Mediterranean?
to the cups and the mornings
to the crisp air and small loveliness
to my hand on your old, hunched shoulder
that had witnessed all the wars and the crumbling of nations
as you complained (very rightly so)
that I had forgotten my biscuit dipped again
making it too soft to withstand the crunching of bones.
Sarah El Halabi is a first year psychiatry resident at Westchester Medical Center/New York Medical College and a previous graduate of the Narrative Medicine program at Columbia University. Her poem, “Teta and The Biscuit,” is part of her chapbook First There Was My Country centered around her experiences as a Lebanese woman over the past 3 years.