My mother told me those ice pick scars back home–her home–
were the footprints earthquakes stamped in concrete face-flesh,
and I, as a child, never thought to ask how it was that
they never left their traces this way on our California home–my home–
straddling as it did the fitful San Andreas fault
that shook our chandeliers,
cracked veins into our ceilings,
fell our picture frames from the walls.
How was it that earthquakes could bite into the buildings of Beirut,
carve them through with greedy fingers,
leave them blackened boneyards, ochre with smoke
perforated like porous bones,
trees brittle and black and quietly, thinly together
in the grey wake of a howling forest fire?
I search for these vestiges now beyond the dazzling light,
loud light in the squares and through the streets,
light through the fissures and pox marks of the ages
liquid light pouring into wounds, sealing them over
light running like ribbons on currents of air,
and I only find Lebanon,
rising like daylight.
Sarah Mills is a poet, fiction writer and journalist. She holds an MLitt in creative writing. Her work has appeared in Kuwait Poets Society and Litro Magazine, among other outlets.
Photo by Heather Murdock/VOA of a Beirut memorial for Alaa Abu Fakhr, a man who died on Tuesday after an officer fired on protesters blocking a road.