Hedy Habra


After Chiharu-Shiota’s Keys

keys to unlock one’s buried memories 
keys to the family cottage you had to sell
keys that once opened different-sized locks 
keys that had to be changed after an effraction 
keys that yearn for the doors they used to open 
keys thrown into a deep well, still oozing blood 
keys to the palaces King Farouk owned in Egypt 
keys to learning how to deal with oneself and others 
keys to the meaning of feelings that you kept losing
keys to the safes holding papers that ruled your lives 
keys kept in a jewelry box that must have mattered once
keys, lost, forgotten or treasured as a possible come back 
keys to the wrought-iron patio gate half-covered with jasmine 
keys that opened the car door that led you straight to the beach 
keys to dream’s horned and ivory gates that keep getting mixed up 
keys meant to reach the heart of a man before he’d change the locks
keys you hold in your palm and run your fingers over and over again 
keys to an old friend’s house who once relied upon you to water her plants 
keys passed on from generation to generation to reclaim the ancestral home 
keys that you had to return to the hotel where you wished you’d spend a lifetime
keys to all the cars you’ve ever owned and led you through long-forgotten crossroads 
keys to the office you left carrying a cardboard box filled with what seemed important
keys to the wooden-carved secretary your mother handed down to you that held no secret to her 
keys to the homes you kept leaving, from country to country, from one neighborhood to the next

Hedy Habra is a poet, artist and essayist. She has authored three poetry collections, most recently, The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019), Winner of the Silver Nautilus Book Award, Honorable Mention for the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and Finalist for the Best Book Award. Tea in Heliopolis won the Best Book Award and Under Brushstrokes was finalist for the Best Book Award and the International Book Award. Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention and was finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. A sixteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the net, and recipient of the Nazim Hikmet Award, her multilingual work appears in numerous journals and anthologies. https://www.hedyhabra.com/