My mother’s lessons are too late.
After all we’ve lived through—the years she counts
in precise concurrence with the Nakba
and the ones I count while I bite my tongue—
she insists on lecturing me, word by word, all at once.
She shows no consideration for my chronic distraction
nor for the chasm of years between us,
the urbanity that tamed the nomad in me
and glossed the margins of my language.
She repeats lessons with the cruelty
of a teacher whose retirement has been delayed.
She searches for her stick under her arms,
cannot find it,
so she pounds on the wooden desk
To hell with any man who makes you cry, you understand?
and there’s no bell to rescue me
before the exam.