• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 08


is the artist’s cat muse. My granddaughter
believes his name is Sad; she is four,
and learning to read, and does not understand
that the artist is Saad, who fled Iraq for
New Hampshire. He loves his adopted
New England town, his homeland, and Egypt,
where he first took refuge with his family
so many years ago. He has painted Hantoosh
over and over: courageous, logical, compassionate,
in brilliant colors, along with the symbols
of exile: the hamsa, barbed wire, the lips sewn
shut; the felucca, the key, the angry bearded
faces, pigeons flown from this rooftop in
Baghdad. His cats hang on my walls. A stack
in primary colors, red, yellow, blue (and green),
and Hantoosh and his wife, bright in evening
dress, against a flash-lit swirling sky, Hantoosh
regal in cravat and jacket, Mrs. Hantoosh in
proper pearls, and their kittens, a litter,
simply, quickly filled in, bold colored outlines,
peering from the painting’s bottom boarder,
confused and a little startled, at their creator’s
signature, Saad.