I sing the song of Belfair
Of village-towns with foreign names.
Curve them on your tongue, hold them in your throat.
Kfarhata, Beirut, Seattle
Belfair with its salty channels
Crab pots, oyster shells that glisten
Yellow-twine rope swing dangles from the balcony
Grandaughter’s Christmas tree stands in the basement
Sturdy treehouse of round-branch walls
Gazes on the wildflower bed
You made them for me.
Kfarhata echoes in the memory halls.
Silver platters, ornate carpets, olive oil held in glass
Cheese, flatbread, cucumber, melon
Salt of the Mediterranean on sun-browned skin
Wind that smells of cedar dust
Tiled mosaics, inlaid cloisters, jeweled desert beauty
You shared it with me.
Beirut leads the way to seaside promenade.
Dive from the Crazy Place and pray for tall waves.
Up narrow stairs, peer into kitchens, lounges
Lines of laundry
Tabouli, lebneh, mannaeesh, kefta
Golden stone, ripped deep with shrapnel
This Paris of the Middle East is broken, shell-shocked, worn but proud
Seattle, home once, and home again. Final home.
Brick-walled, humble garden Ballard house.
Basement filled with apples, ham, baguette
Card games with the teenaged grandkids
Laughter, Arabic cussing lessons
Your teaching voice is strong.
Home apartment, hospital bed
In your firstborn’s house, office converts to hospice
This shelter-land does not sing your blood’s song
Instead, it cradles legacy
Lives grow here that stemmed from you
Chicks have their own chicks now.
Dark-eyed grandchildren: Painter. Engineer. Writer.
Great grandchildren: Music-maker. Joy-dancer.
Your heart’s new orbit.
And then, your time comes in a sun-filled room.
Hymns, bright-colored marker-lines on cards,
Gentle hand upon your arm, a kiss on your wrinkled forehead.
I see my father in your face.
Goodbye, my Jiddo. My grandfather. My ancient legacy of gracious love.
Your home is no longer here with us. It lies in the light beyond.
In Memory of Hikmat George Saba
August 4, 1930 – November 3, 2018