The corniche in that film, when they say Beirut,
is not Beirut. Maybe Morocco. Not Beirut.
No way waves like that break across this barrier,
no way this stretch of urban playground, sea
beach (rocks only) and strolling was that lonely,
and broken. Here the palms sway, and the hibiscus.
Conservatively dressed Arabs and those sexier,
more up-to-date, mix freely, in droves, watched
by the military, young and good-looking in
camouflage clothing and berets. Maroon
berets. My grandson, blond curls flying,
scoots down the broad pavement on silver
wheels, his little sister behind him on red ones.
Hawkers sell sweets. My husband eats falafel,
the thin, white, dribbly stuff slips through his
fingers. The world’s at play here, vengeance
is buried like the bee in the bougainvillea.
You enter the silence and there is something there.
That’s what meditation is. Thank you for asking.
As the boat turns on your beloved boat lake,
so the mind turns, tacks, and releases, bumps
into the duck on the float, bumps into the edging
of the pond, bumps into other boats, but rights
itself, sails on. Then an idea emerges, breathing
like a horse, hot with life-heat. It knocks you over,
it’s so strong. Like a bus stopping at a bus stop,
the idea unloads its cargo, kneeling to be sure
the people reach the pavement, and you are stuck,
your shopping bag full of something you hadn’t
counted on acquiring. So, buyer beware, dear
grandchild. You have to want to do it. Be desperate.
HELEN BARNARD has been writing seriously since she retired in 1999. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Barrow Street, Fulcrum, and elsewhere. Her book-length manuscript Margaret and Other Heroes was a finalist in the Four Way Books Intro Book Contest in 2014. She lives in New York City.