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Mizna, Volume 9, Issue 2
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Grandfathers
It is summer.
I am in class.
My book is thin
with brown pages
like tissue.
The words are not in English.
The professor is not American.
He speaks of the classics:
Hussein, Mahfouz, Idris . . .
They are the greats,
one day you will read them all.

He speaks of philosophy
whose words I cannot understand.
I daydream.
I am nine years old
with my grandfather
inside his favorite book shop
that smells old.
He speaks of the classics:
Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner . . .
They are the greats,
one day you will read them all.

He pulls thin-spined books
from the shelves.
They are filled
with brown pages
like tissue.
He piles them into my waiting arms.
I am still in class.
The teacher speaks of greatness.
His words are not in English
but I understand them.
On the corner of the thin white book
with pages like tissue
are pictures
of men in blue robes
black letters
my grandfather could not read.
My eyes devour them in his honor
spit them back in English
in his memory.
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Mizna is a Twin Cities non-profit arts organization that promotes contemporary expressions of Arab American culture. We publish the literary journal Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America, produce the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival, and offer varied other readings, performances, art projects, and community events involving an exceptionally talented and diverse range of local, national, and international Arab American artists.

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