Michal  (Mitak) Mahgerefteh

                                                                                                              Poetry and Art 



Early morning light woke the rooster’s dawning call -

Looking for my father, I ran outside, climb on top of

the weathered brick wall, scan the vast orange grove;


Father was at the edge of the property picking sweet

lemon from the neighbor's trees, in his hand a bucket

of ripe blackberries he picked from the sandy veranda.


My grandmother Mami took his blue jacket, adorned

with police medals and ribbons, carefully placed it on

the back of his chair, and we all sat around Moroccan


silver trey for early breakfast; I could sense tension,

father spoke with disembodied voice, “Today was my

last day, I will take care of her,” kissed her rosy cheeks.

by Michal Mahgerefteh 
Copyright@Michal Mahgerefteh




Do you remember our family trips to the Red Sea:

on the rocky shore we cracked limpet shells for bait.

We fish for snapper and eel from a huge floating tube…

You felt at ease, happy when the shell bucket was full.


“The past does not make me feel safe,” I softly touched

the lace curtains mother sewed for their 45th anniversary,

her presence lingers in the intricate embroidery softly
glowing with first light, “She liked to hand-stitch.”


My visits weary father. He dislikes talking unless God

is in the conversations… muttering to life during long

Israeli nights. . .  the moon, especially bright tonight,
ten-years since mother’s death, is that not enough

By Michal Mahgerefteh
Copyright@Michal Mahgerefteh




I watch him chop fresh English parsley and cilantro,

prepare spicy sauce to eat with chicken for early dinner.

The pungent herbs aroused hints of memories long forgotten.


A great sadness tightened around father, and it felt like

he welcomed the smothering sensation, like a visit from

an old friend, “I didn’t feel the presence of love in this life.”


I wanted to comfort but the only sound he allowed himself

to hear was the heaviness of his breathing and the sound

the knife makes, cutting through the flesh of organic herbs.


Avoiding eye contact, father knew that life would never

be the same after mother’s passing: cook for himself, shop

for food and clothes, pay bills, take control over his health.


But he didn’t care: unopened mail on the kitchen table

with dirty dishes, spoiled food in the refrigerator, unwashed

clothes piled in the hallway, bathroom smelled like urine…


Irregular use of insulin caused father depression and rage

engaging in bickering that turned onto monologues. Nobody

cares because you don’t… Father, you simply don’t care.

by Michal Mahgerefteh
Copyright@Michal Mahgerefteh




This dining room was the busiest area in my parents’ home,

fresh food prepared daily in case visitors stop by after work;

“The hungry and curious taking advantage of her weakness,”

father complained about mother who needed the company

especially after intense chemo and radiation treatments.


I sneak a look at father, solid like iron, I avert my eyes

to the entry door; ceramic garlic and metal horseshoe charms

fixed around the frame, “Close to thirty-years keeping Jinn

spirits from our bodies,” he said. They didn’t help her, I said,

cultural superstition bullshit…I expect more from you father.


The pain of knowing how unnoticed he was as a caregiver 

drew him to the unseen God, dominating his thoughts, not

people; complaining about the dirty condition of his house,

personal hygiene, eating habits. “I don’t open the door…”

by Michal Mahgerefteh 
Copyright@Michal Mahgerefteh