Her body sinks into the wavy sheets, the sea of down calming after the assault, the raging battle of the senses leaving her inert, absent, her thighs ripe and fragrant, a guava still reeking of our mixed juices: time after time we have risen from the abyss, empty carcasses lying on a raft of bitterness. Why this urge to go down the stairs, press on the accelerator? Only then does my hand measure the heaviness of her breasts, correct the choreography of each gesture, motion her to dress and undress as I compose a montage of my favorite stills, like a child playing at forbidden games, I want to do it all at once, merge the end with the beginning, yes, she sighs, you have touched my soul, melts into a mirror of water: a star quivers, I lose myself in the middle of its eye while we drown in the waves we create: there’s no ocean to sate my thirst until I face the wrinkled sheets weighing on me and want to leave again.
The Ages of Woman
The three-way mirror refuses to reflect her tattered dress, the withered flower falling from her startled hand as she sees the bride she once was, seated on the throne of youth, as in a centerfold, holding a lily, erect like a scepter in her right hand, the other grasping a bouquet over her lap, unaware of crossing oceans of time about to overflow, their white-crested waves already reaching the commode where the circular clock stopped ticking.
And the left and right panes of the mirror remain blank as past and future merge, there is no reflection of the old woman’s tired self, her thinning hair. She gazes at the image facing her with a doe’s frightened stare, feels sorry for the girl seated on the throne of youth, smiles at her own knotted hands and swollen veins that tell stories the girl cannot understand.
She has so much to say, she thinks, notices the fallen hour hands nearby. She has time till waters rise up to her knees; soon they will all disappear in the storytelling. The old woman could leave the room, restart the clock, stop the illusion, but it is her chance to speak to a captive audience, to say goodbye.
Hedy Habra is the author of a poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the 2014 USA Book Awards and finalist for the 2014 International Book Award, a short story collection, Flying Carpets, winner of the 2013 Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention and finalist for the 2014 USA Book Awards and the 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award. She is a recipient of the 2012 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award. Her multilingual work appears in numerous publications, including Drunken Boat, Cutthroat, The Bitter Oleander, Blue Fifth Review, Diode, Nimrod, Cider Press Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetic Diversity, Mizna, and Poet Lore. She has a passion for painting and teaches Spanish at Western Michigan University.