In Palestine, my brother built
a makeshift zoo and began to
charge admission: half a shekel
for a full day’s pass.
He caught the tarantulas
every morning with a bucket and
an olive branch. Placed them in
thick plastic bags, hanging on the
garden wall. The tarantulas gnawed
the sides of their homes, pawing
at the sky, chewing their way
toward the domed hills. One
night, a tarantula escaped.
She crawled into my grandmother’s
bathroom. We awoke to the
screams. Grandmother beating
at the tiled floor. The tarantula
running toward the open door.
Grandmother kept hitting, even
when the tarantula was just a spot
staining the blue tile. My brother
stood in the doorway, crying.
The next morning, he took down
the zoo, plucked the bags off the wall,
and returned the tarantulas to
the hills. They marched across
the sand. We watched them run
back to their homes, their bodies
dotting the desert, staining the
landscape like spots on the sun.
By Fatima Sausan Masoud
A Palestinian-American born in the southwest, Fatima Sausan Masoud (she/her) holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives in El Paso and teaches First Year Composition and Elementary Arabic at the same university. She finds time to write in the in-between spaces when her kids are asleep. Find her on Instagram (@applewhiskey).