Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 32: Mirroring the Mirrors of the Universe (Hung Lyres + Fady Joudah’s “Mimesis”)

Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 32: Mirroring the Mirrors of the Universe (Hung Lyres + Fady Joudah’s “Mimesis”)

Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.
--The Gospel of Matthew 19:14

I can’t tell you how many times my daughters have been teachers to me. Yesterday’s poem showed Adele talking back to the radio (about some politician’s or journalist’s pronunciation of Iraq—it’s “ear rock,” not “eye rack”). She was mirroring myself back to me, mirroring my own mirroring. But it’s more than that—my daughters teach me primal wonder. Every child is a philosopher and a poet, of course. Within three consecutive “why” questions, every five-year-old reaches toward the great mysteries of the universe. Some of Adele’s questions pepper the “Hung Lyres” poem, as well as her answer to what peace might be. I couldn’t help but think of my friend Fady Joudah’s tender poem “Mimesis,” about his daughter’s refusal to break the web of a spider who had nested between the handlebars of her bike.

From “Hung Lyres” (Sand Opera)


What does it mean, I say. She says, it means
to be quiet, just by yourself. She says, there’s

a treasure chest inside. You get to dig it out. 
Somehow, it’s spring. Says, will it always

rain? In some countries, I say, they are
praying for rain. She asks, why do birds sing?

In the dream, my notebook dipped in water,
all the writing lost. Says, read the story again. 

But which one? That which diverts the mind
is poetry. Says, you know those planes

that hit those buildings? Asks, why do birds sing? 
When the storm ends, she stops, holds her hands

together, closes her eyes. What are you doing? 
I’m praying for the dead worms. Says, listen:

Mimesis          by Fady Joudah

My daughter
                        wouldn’t hurt a spider
That had nested
Between her bicycle handles
For two weeks
She waited
Until it left of its own accord

If you tear down the web I said
It will simply know
This isn’t a place to call home
And you’d get to go biking

She said that’s how others
Become refugees isn’t it?

-- Fady Joudah is a Palestinian American physician, poet, and translator. The son of Palestinian refugees, poet Fady Joudah was born in Austin, Texas, and grew up in Libya and Saudi Arabia. Joudah’s debut collection of poetry, The Earth in the Attic (2008), won the 2007 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition and was a finalist for ForeWord’s Book of the Year Award. Joudah followed his second book of poetry is Alight (2013) with Textu (2014), a collection of poems written on a cell phone that are exactly 160 characters long. Joudah translated the final three collections of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s work in The Butterfly’s Burden (2006), which won Banipal prize from the UK and was a finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. His translation of Ghassan Zaqtan's Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (2012) won the Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2013.


Unknown said...

Two beautiful poems. Read Sand Opera and found your blog through my friend, poet Patricia Hartnett.

Philip Metres said...

Carol, thanks for touching base and reading!

Peace, Phil