Monique Zamir – In Baghdad

It’s winter: My grandmother strains
yogurt outside. It’s winter: We bathe
in rosewater. The yogurt thickens as the wind
blows in A minor through an ancient synagogue,
built, destroyed and rebuilt again,
as our noses breathe in Havdalah spices.

We leave our bread behind, our cousin imprisoned
for a crime even the guards can’t name.
Death sentence.
Release.
Run.
The wind never saw our people leaving, we who slept
on rooftops with you, we who charred fish on
brushwood fires with you.
Our feet sore, we tell ourselves, from millennia spent
standing still. Funny, how quickly the eye
loses its hand.

Now, in the land of milk and cactus fruit
the yogurt has thickened to leben. Sit under
the olive tree, salt of the Dead
Sea on our lips, let’s talk about the home
we’ll never see again.