Winter 1993 • Vol. XV No. 1 Poetry |

Watermelon Tales

January. Snow. For days I have craved      watermelons, wanted    to freckle the ground with seeds, wanted to perform an ancient ritual:      Noontime, an early    summer Sunday, the village chief faces north, spits seven mouthfuls, then      fingers a circle    around the galaxy of seeds. Maimoon the bedouin visited in      summer, always with    a gift: a pickup truck load of watermelons. "Something for the      children," he explained.    Neighbors brought wheelbarrows to fetch their share. Our chickens ate the rest.      His right ear pricked up    close, my father taps on a watermelon, strokes as though it were      a thigh. Then he slaps.    "If it doesn't sound like your hands   clapping at a wedding, it's not yours." Men shake the chief's hand,    children kiss it. Then all file behind him when he walks back. No one      talks until

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Khaled Mattawa currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan. He is the author of four books of poetry and a critical study of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Mattawa has coedited two anthologies of Arab American literature and translated many volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry. His awards include the Academy of American Poets Fellowship Prize, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is the current editor of Michigan Quarterly Review.

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By Khaled Mattawa

January. Snow. For days I have craved      watermelons, wanted    to freckle the ground with seeds, wanted to perform an ancient ritual:      Noontime, an early    summer Sunday, the village chief faces […]

from Echoes & Elixirs

By Khaled Mattawa

January. Snow. For days I have craved      watermelons, wanted    to freckle the ground with seeds, wanted to perform an ancient ritual:      Noontime, an early    summer Sunday, the village chief faces […]

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