Calls to Dabaab (published in NDQ 84.1/2)
Fargo, North Dakota
Sharif’s wife points me to the diwan, where Sharif and several other men sit on the floor around a phone. I say salaam, shake hands, offer condolences for the relative who died. There’s a tap on the doorjamb—the youngest man walks to the curtain, reaches through, pulls back a tray of cups steaming with sweet, creamy tea. We sip. The tide of the mother tongue floods the men again. Sharif’s son translates: they called the shopkeeper nearest the dead man’s home, the one who has a phone. They’re waiting while someone brings the widow. Time to call back. Sharif’s half-brother dials. In Dabaab, the shopkeeper answers. Now the widow is on the line. Did he leave any debts? No, she answers. He paid them before he died. Do you need money? No. So his account is done. Whatever he did in this world is done. Salaam, they say. Done.
Yahya Frederickson is the author of In a Homeland Not Far: New and Selected Poems (Press 53, 2017), The Gold Shop of Ba-‘Ali (Lost Horse Press, 2014), the chapbook The Birds of Al-Merjeh Square: Poems from Syria (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and three other chapbooks. His poems have appeared in Arts & Letters, Hanging Loose, Midwestern Gothic, Ninth Letter, The Southern Review, Water~Stone Review, Witness, and other journals. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen and Fulbright Scholar in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Kyrgyzstan, Yahya teaches English at Minnesota State University Moorhead.