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Sunday, March 24, 2013

PALM SUNDAY AT RABIEH, MOUNT LEBANON

by Antony Johae


This early April the sun’s suddenly hot
good for summer suits, light dresses
and children’s spangled frocks.
Church bells jangle invitation to enter
into AC away from open heat and glare.
Candles are carried in procession
olive branches in lieu of palm.
This boy holds a sprig of rosemary, scented for Sunday.
This woman struggles with her wet baby,
she’s breaking out in tears.
Some come in out-worn dresses
pre-nuptial, before male seed misshaped them into mothers
their men baldish, bellies loose-belted.

But here’s a well-formed girl chaste as Mary, Beatrice-beautiful
coming in as the Lord’s Prayer is said:
“ . . . lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil . . .”
This man’s tripped on the west door steps
chagrined that he’s grazed a knee.
That woman’s bra-strap is showing. Does she know it?
These girls’ skirts are short, leg muscles winter-white.
This old woman’s hair is dyed black – and that man’s moustache
camouflage for untold years.
Those dark-skinned maids are looking on as strangers,
some too young to have traveled – they don’t look troubled.

Outside, power pylons stretch up tapering like spires
and thick cables overhang a church of stone
– modern wit enough to make the Lord laugh.
Or is perhaps the joke inverse?
Human circumstance absurd.


Antony Johae lives in Lebanon and is a freelance writer. The poem is taken from a collection in progress: Lines on Lebanon. His work has appeared previously in The New Verse News.