baba’s song


when i was two my Baba broke his shoulder

so he took a vacation from sixteen hour days

on the store floor and we flew to the ‘iblad

just me and my Dad

in a yellow taxi cab

from the airport in Amman

i was so cold in the back seat Baba in front

he covered me with the first thing he could find

a nightgown from our suitcase


at my uncle’s house i dance and sing

in a red dress with white dots

my hair is curt around my tiny face

i didn’t get fat until i was eight

everyone just loves this girl

who can sing all the folk songs

i am Baba’s girl through and through

so much that i won’t sleep unless he is near me


tonight i sat at the table with my Baba

and we sang sakkar ma’mal il sukkar

my jam when I was two

we sang with accompaniment

the crackling grill and cackling sisters and careening kids

my mother laughing laughing at old jokes

on land that used to be an Israeli army camp

in the outskirts of Beit Sahour

we can still see the watchtower looming over “Area C”

but tonight “C” is for “cover me”

which i do when Baba gets cold

in the cool air of ‘Ush ‘Ghrab

and now he’s in the next room sleeping

because hamdillah outside our love

i cannot rest

Mejdulene B. Shomali is a writer, teacher, and researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Feminist Wire, Mizna, Baltimore City Paper, Diode, The Pinch Journal, and a number of academic journals.