Lama’s Story About Summer, 2006

by William DeGenaro

During the war you learned to draw while hiding in the mountains that split the north from the south. Also, how to fire an AK. Your baba taught you both. Just in case. What did you think of neighbors who took to caves with canes, knives, sticks before Hezbollah could get them? What did you think of the Hezbollah wives and children your family took in, refugees in their own country? Did you ooh and aah at dusk while watching the gunfire to the south? Wartime hiding is a bore by day but by night…

I once thought war could only amputate but you grew pencils like some Tim Burton superhero. Do you know Tim Burton? Of course. You grew pencils and then you drew your baba teaching you to shoot. You called the piece Just in Case. And you drew the wives and widows and kids from the south. And you drew the dusk, the chairs out back where your mama hangs fresh jibnee in cheesecloth sacks. You drew family, refugees, together, drinking tea, sun setting, watching the firefights. You drew the old man next door, clicking at the Shi’a living with you, climbing higher into the hills, with a cache of sticks and canes to fight. And you called this piece Just in Case too. When the war ended weeks after its start, you left the mountains to start university, knowing how to fire an AK-47, unable to because of the pencils that grew from your hands.

William DeGenaro, a Detroit-based writer and teacher, says a hot bowl of buckwheat kasha beats oatmeal any day of the week [sic].