T5erbeesh: The Girl in the Troglodyte

 Zaha Shtewi

This poem is inspired by the 7osh al 7afar or troglodyte dwellings in Gheryan, where I'm from. I combined imagery of picking olives/nature and the supernatural which is what I correlate the 7osh al 7afar with in my head after all of the old stories from my grandparents. 

She sat in her tight braids,

legs folded on the skin of the

sheep her father

slaughtered years ago, the smell

of those years lingered too.

Crushing beneath her fingers a

handful of ripened olives, the hefty

stone was still caked in dust

her Mother said it would give

the oil a taste of the Earth.


Clay jars filled to the brim

with virgin olive oil covered the

room she shared with her family.

Pottery of various sizes and

hues hung from the walls, an

Exhibition of some sorts.


The sound of a brother calling the

athan from a nearby hilltop

coupled with the evening chirps of

settling birds, woke her up

from the stupor of the incident.


A veil between another world

And our own, that the Creator

wove with wise intention,

Had been torn at the base

Of the troglodyte, 7osh al 7afar.


Earlier, as she was perched

in an olive tree, picking ripe

zeytun... that would soon be

mercilessly pressed for

their delectable oil, a winter



The jinn floated by

right as the

Sun stood in the middle of

the sky, bare and brass.

barrier broken.

He squinted right up,

leaning right

at the base of the nearly stripped


Let’s meet at dusk

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Photos taken by Mhmd Alyaseer (@mo7ys) in Gheryan