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God, the mother claimed, is behind every tree in the forest

his right shoulder lower than his left
heavy with rocky snowfalls from such endurance
It’s his motionless breath that fissures our walls in the night when one winter hands
   power over to another
The deaf bluetit’s wing-beats count for nothing
nor the mother’s invectives guilty of having grouted the tiles with her tears
 
Yet the storm announced festive disorder
erosion polished up by subtle winds
Everything smiled at us
and the mother who wore her tears around her neck like warm-sea pearls
counted them on our fingers that grew with the Persian lilac, the only one to
   sympathize with our sorrows
 
© Vénus Khoury-Ghata. By arrangement with the author. Translation  © 2012 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.