Birthday in Hebron

By Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Mohammad Ziad Awwad Salayme
Mohammad Ziad Awwad Salayme

Stairs vanish before bloodstains come

Before the bullet
or the boot on the dead boy’s shin
he has long been taken
by ghosts passing in lockstep

No slumping
or labored last breath but a sack

of brown sugar
on the bakery’s doorstep

Birthdays here are dice
rolled and collected
before the gun wound
and guffaw

The boy— seventeen today
never pales

He is all cream
and the camera’s kiss

Note: “At around 7:30 pm on Wednesday, 12 December 2012, a soldier of the Israeli army shot dead Mohammad Salayme, killing him with two bullets to the body and head in the Salayme neigbourhood of Hebron near to the Ibrahimi mosque. Mohammad had spent the day in school and was on his way to buy some cake for him and his family to celebrate his birthday…” reported Team Khalil.

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