Letter to an Uncle in Nabatiyyeh
by Tarek Ghaddar
I was at your daughter’s wedding,
and it’s the first memory I still have of you,
and my last memory of you is at another
wedding, it’s sad, that I can’t tell when
I’m looking at someone for the last time.
we were there for your granddaughter’s birth,
my baby brother sings her name while he plays,
“Chloe, Chloe, Chloe.” I wish you could’ve known
them both. maybe they’ll ride bikes and skateboard around the old
house in Nabatiyeh… I follow your daughter in law on insta
she’s a wonderful mother. your son is in good hands. what else?
like you always thought I would, I got into medical school.
we only had one real conversation really. it was at the aaza
for Tehta. i remember you saying, “Ma tibki, khalli
dmuaak lil aayshin,” Do not cry, save your tears for the living, “Wa mat
khalli eyya insen y shufak hek, rijjel inta. Ma maaneta ma tizaal,
bas kun al-sakhr libtahdi al-bahr.” Let no one see you cry, be a man.
That doesn’t mean you cannot grieve, but be the cliff that calms the sea. I hadn’t yet read
Marcus Aurelius, did you know you were quoting Marcus Aurelius? No— this was just your nature.
Sorry for not visiting your grave; the thawra closed the roads. Jnoub is always closed to me, even when I have nowhere else to go.
About the Author
Tarek Ghaddar grew up in Beirut, Lebanon. He attended the University of Miami for degrees in Biochemistry and English. He continued with a Master's in Public Health at the Miller School of Medicine, and will shortly be attending medical school. His poetry comes from his traumas, such as war and his sister's cancer, as a way of handling them. His work has been published in Eclectica and Mangrove.