Claire Zoghb


Vermont Studio Center

It's Open Studio Night, but Aïda is not speaking.
Sifting down her pale calves, piling at her toes like Sarajevo snow,
Fine brown powder, redolent of mothers and mornings.
Her shoulders shimmer in an ivory chemise.

Sifting down her pale calves, piling at her toes like tonight's snow,
Coffee, falling from a brass grinder in Aida's chilled hands.
Her shoulders shiver in an ivory chemise.
Does she look for the future in her daily grounds?

Coffee falls from a brass grinder in Aïda's chilled hands.
She marks her days on frosted paper squares.
Does she still glimpse the past in her daily grounds?
She walked out of one of the past century's last wars.

She marked each day on frosted paper squares with
Fine brown powder, redolent of mothers and mornings.
She walked out of one of the last century's last wars.
It's Open Studio Night. Aïda does not speak.


In Cleopatra The Baths District, Alexandria

Day ripens. Melon scent rises in the kitchen, mixes with the tang of iodine blowing off the sea. Vendors on donkey carts have come and gone, hawking honeydews, shouting for scrap metal. Each song echoes, settles into the street's ancient dust. For how many thousands of years have voices like these traveled this lane? It is the hour of pigeons. Yours will soon return, banking over the Corniche. I watch the city slow. Downstairs, the baker locks his shop for the night. I nod to the boy on a balcony across the street, call out a greeting in my most precise Arabic. He answers in English, says his name is Mohammed. I tell him mine, ask his age. Kham-sa. Five. We taste the juice and salt of the foreign words on our tongues.

Only five months
since the towers crumbled
and we can speak.


Claire Zoghb's first collection, Small House Breathing, won the 2008 Quercus Review Poetry Series Annual Book Award. Her chapbook, Dispatches from Everest, is forthcoming. Her work has appeared in Connecticut Review, CALYX, Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America, Natural Bridge, Assisi Online Journal, and in the anthologies Through A Child's Eyes: Poems and Stories About War and Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems. She has poems forthcoming in Crab Creek Review. Twice a Pushcart nominee, Claire was the winner of the 2008 Dogwood annual poetry competition. A graphic designer, she is on the staff of Drunken Boat and works as Graphics Director at Long Wharf Theatre.


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Claire Zoghb

> A panel on The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline has been accepted at this year's Southern Women Writers Conference.
Rhea Nowak: I am always intrigued by the relationships between clarity and chaos, rhythm and awkwardness, mark and intention, presence and absence.
32 Poems
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