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Tourists

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In Tunis we try to discuss divorce
And dying but give up to lounge

With rug merchants under a plum tree.
From its corner the lamb’s severed head

Watches the flies drink from its eyes
And its fat disappear into the fire.

The light rinses the edge of your sandal,
The two wasps that ornament the blur

Of screened window. My grandmother
Would have loved a night like this.

In the wind chimes I can hear her tea cart
With its china rolling through Cook Street’s

Stony yard one summer when I was always
Thirsty, and she moved like a figure

On a clock from my lawn chair to the cart,
Or swabbed me with alcohol, or cut

My hair with the straight razor.
I was a week out of the hospital.

Beneath my breasts an incision was crossed
With stitches of surgical thread.

The scalpel came so close it gave
My heart a quick kiss. I nearly died.

Years later I can still see the skin
Flutter on the inside of my left breast

And my heart limps like a great uncle
Who, because he was a Jew and lame,

Was dragged by cossacks across the steppes.
He became a friend asking a favor

Of a horse who ran so hard, so perfectly
Hard, that the green grass rose to meet him.


Lynn Emanuel, “Tourists” from Hotel Fiesta. Copyright © 1984, 1992, 1995 by Lynn Emanuel. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.
Source: Hotel Fiesta (University of Illinois Press, 1984)
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Tourists

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