In honor of Revolution Day, we present this work by one of today’s most evocative Egyptian poets.
There are hours when every thing creaks when chairs stretch their arms, tables their legs and closets crack their backs, incautiously
Fed up with the polite fantasy of having to stay in one place and stick to their stations
Humans too, at work, or in love know such aches and growing pains when inner furnishings defiantly shift
As decisively, and imperceptibly, as a continent some thing will stretch, croak or come undone so that everything else must be reconsidered
One restless dawn, unable to suppress the itch of wanderlust, with a heavy door left ajar semi-deliberately, and a new light teasing in Some piece of immobility will finally quit suddenly nimble on wooden limbs as fast as a horse, fleeing the stable.
A man pulls his cart piled with clay olas maneuvers the knotted traffic olas for sale to contain cool water quench the sand starched mouth
Futile to unlock this tongue I’m lost here mazed into a pattern of textures and rhythms snatched by the clutches of the tied bird of prey in the zoo out of tune with the peacock caged in the pet store stitched into the canvas of human sweat to divulge the secret of this magnet that draws us near a reckless gesture stumbles into the ola cart scatters clay shards and continue
Soft on a summer bed in the Languedoc a man in an Afghan prison sits with me watching his brother walking through snowdrifts to a village much like this one (boucherie, tabac, boulangerie, broken shutters) where a month’s supply of bullets lies secured in a box beneath his mother’s wedding carpet.
Turning the pages of Bruce Chatwin’s life I feel the ashy bodies shift and stutter downward through steel sticks broken on New York’s southern streets. Peruvian feathers hang in coloured blocks across the whiteness of a wall in England, the man in the snow takes another step forward, under a sky-blue burqa a woman writes to the man in prison without pen or paper.
Together we turn the pages, always together now. Lavender. Ash. Snow on a black beard.
Ma, I’m coming home that mountain towering over our city like a blue hue, beckons in the molasses folds of midnight his voice softens the folds of my ears and the south-easter sings in b-flat as it winds through my empty heart
Ma, I’m coming home my heart overflows with yearning and the tears roll down my cheeks like rocks and pull the breath from my lungs i have walked through the skin on the soles of my feet winding through another country’s streets another people’s pain I miss the sea and the smell of salt that finds its way to our front door on summer morning’s swollen with heat I miss the voices and words of my people and the way their tongues hold words in their mouths: flat and rough then sometimes flat and smooth the blood in my veins beats to a rhythm I cannot find in this green land
Ma, I’m coming home that mountain towering over our city like a blue hue, beckons in the molasses folds of midnight his voice softens the folds of my ears and the south-easter sings in b-flat as it winds through my empty heart Ma, I’m coming home it’s time to leave the world behind now it’s you who I want to lay beside
I submitted to the most poisonous stings to suck his lips he swore on the conscience of beehives not to assault the flowers of my scarf Then he unbuttoned my shirt and mingled with me just like a bee falling head on into a glass of honey.
In reality my loves are the strange box of a Polish doll The blonde’s eyes appearing fixed to her hips long after midnight the garret always singular to loosen a massive mane across her back, its strands thick and fine draping her otter-like chin Deliberately she’d peer out from the wall and nothing could be seen but the shadow of her breasts hidden beneath marmots of hair And lovely was her skin’s radiance at that unusual hour Her waist’s digressions easily discerned as bees through grass the window neither open nor closed What I saw, yellow like crystal, rose from sleepy thighs amassed in unseemly tourniquets Everything before me, a pale shimmer of hairs fanning delicately to reveal the pink or green skin I no longer know of hips a million centimeters from my gaze.
Sad men frighten birds away. Down to their pensive foreheads descend the clouds and dissolve into an opaque drizzle. Flowers languish in the gardens of the sad men. Their precipices tempt death. Whereas the women that are within a woman are all born at the same time in front of the sad eyes of the sad men. The woman vessel again opens her belly and offers the sad man her redeeming milk. The woman child kisses with fervor his paternal, desolate widower’s hands. And she who walks silently in the house shines his black hours and patches up all the holes in his breast. There is another that lends to the sad man her two hands as if they were wings. But sad men are deaf to their music. There is no lonelier woman then, more sadly lonely, than she who wants to love a sad man.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.
Weep for this wounded desperate soul that never seems to heal, alone, vocalising to any passer by. Uncomfortable for some, they turn away, but that won’t stop her swaying, or mend her destructive pain
Pray for this tired old and embittered lady who fought courageously against the colonisers classified as ‘tribal’ whose love across the racial lines meant government sanctioned interference: the Bullyman, welfare, local school teacher – informant, would not relent till Ruby was removed
Three long years of hiding from the tentacles of institutionalised racism, till a moments lapse and then she’s gone Ruby’s gone, like she never existed, nor was ever loved. Rocking to and fro, she still dreams of little Ruby and of that fateful day and wonders what their life could’ve been like without this government sanctioned cruelty