Outside Beirut, Lebanon, 1978


My father drove north, Beirut blurring in the rearview mirror,
visa warm in his pocket, gilding him. No one else on
the highway, just him and four blank lanes and a margin of coast.

It’s too quiet. He’s missed something. His hands
shake when he combs the radio for signs of life. All dead air
then the fizz of a reporter, a jangle of qanun and habibi.

But the sky is already unzipping. The missile already
arching over the freeway. He could keep driving
but instead stalls in the middle of the lane

as the keys knell from the ignition,
as the incision curls overhead,
as the smoke takes his breath and writes his name.


Image by Ian Burt