Ali Baba and Other Histories


By Priscilla Wathington

I was blown here on a magical basket
my grandfather wove of cat hair and plastic.

This is how he survived the War,
pretending to be the Devil in a hole:

when soldiers bucked, he swore
Speak and I’ll claim your soul.

(They never did find his stash of peas
buried below chickenfeed.)

He died as a feather peels
from flight to floor for squirrels.

In his wake a unit of wheat
straw trays, unfinished seats.

I remember making a forest of pines
from gravelwater and twine

while jiddu worked that olive soap
into a smooth, glossy loaf.

This was his reward
not a pension or winner’s hold:

the victory of blowing a granddaughter across the sea,
the victory of eating khubz and mulberries with no teeth.


Priscilla Wathington is the Managing Editor of the children’s human rights group, Defense for Children International—Palestine, and a regular contributing book reviewer to Al Jadid Magazine. Her poems have recently appeared in SukoonThe Normal School, and Matter.