Coffee-Making Shadows

Joyce Al Hayek


You could see them along the streets of Hiroshima,
the human shadow of death
imprints of people,
black shadows struck to the concrete.

When the blast of the atomic bomb vaporized the city,
it annihilated everything the hands could touch,
but left behind the shadows,
etching them in the concrete walls and on the pavement.

For months after the Beirut blast,
I would walk in the streets, hurrying along my life,
finding petty distractions and meaningless tasks,
some errands, some paperwork.

Menial tasks suddenly became hypnotizing,
My hand on the lid,
contracting the muscles in my arm to pry it open,
placing it on the counter.
Grabbing the spoon,
scooping coffee grounds,
put them in the filter,
another spoonful.
Grabbing the kettle,
filling it with water

Astounding, isn’t it?
How the most routine tasks start to take forever.
Astounding, aren’t they?
The things we escape pain with.

I didn’t walk so much as glide over Beirut,
A hovering shadow,
moving senselessly over the city,
avoiding its touch.

But grief does not take kindly to being ignored,
and pain demands to be felt*

It was the heaviness in my heart that weighed me down,
down so low,
that I got etched in the stone,
the stone of the city I loved so much.

The explosion didn’t blast me away,
it smeared me across the pavement instead.


* Quote by John Green from The Fault in Our Stars