Selma

On the other side of the river,
She sees me, smiles and waves.
She cups her hands.
She waves
She calls.

Standing on this side, I wave too, smiling back.
Though I can’t make out her face,
I know her. I know I know her.
Somebody once very close.
‘Selma is that you?’

Approaching me she becomes the water between life and death
But I can’t be sure who
Or which of us is alive.
Or dead.
Or unborn.

‘Selma is that you? Just give me your hand
No you won’t fall
You’re safe and now
the other one
Hold on tight with both hands

The camps have long gone, the soldiers have left
Fear is but the shadow of the past
Far shall we go and high
and nothing will pull us apart
Clear skies and hills overlooking the sea await us

And my guide took me by the hand
and led me
into a darkness that was not a darkness and
into a silence that was not a silence

And paused and said in a voice as quiet as running water

‘You have come from a country where truth
is so trammelled up in clever
elegant words
that only opacity is praised and prized
by the blind
And faithless fools

But if you will listen and open up
Your hands
I shall teach you about truth transparent and pure
as the wind and as impossible to pin down as light.

I listened and was kissed by the light.

Sylvia

Sylvia, I knew your Daddy, the bastard that lives in me
Neglecting each tear that rolled down your face

Feeling cheated by his coldness, he’s gone from your life,
Though lingering like the dead insect against your windscreen
in the December rain,

Like you I dream at night that I am old before my time
Being pulled towards my grave
I take one last breath and die.

Nothing’s Changed

You still haunt me, as you did then,
As we wind back the clock,
Feeding the birds,
Talking to pigeons
Disregarding notions of emptiness

Love is insistent as logic, reliable as heartbeat
Obsessive as any anorak spotting train
On a cold Thursday morning,

Yet bound by your voice
That echoes an eternity.
I guessed you’d pick up echoes –
No one else could hear

This ground-bass to mourning
This hum below the surface where the angels play.
And above the swirling stars lights our beginnings,

We were hooked then,
And in the beginning,
Nothing’s changed.

Anniversary

The calendar reminds me
of the years, days, seconds
all this while
listening to my own uncertainties,

fading jangling hypnotic
cacophony out,
lifting the other channel, if I may
on your sonorous voice

breathing mystery into the depth
of longing
that had no belonging
before I belonged to you

Under a Damascus moon

For Aylan Kudri

He dreamed of a warm bed, each night the pads of feet were soft on the walk up to bed

a fresh pillow that quilted his head for each new dream, that infinitely evolved in his mind

He dreamed of the arms that would cover him when sinking into a lullaby, his eyes closed

his mother’s hands closed his ears from the deafening waves that pounded the boat.

He dreamed of things that fell in the night rattled around in his head, catching memories

playing under street lamps, following the pigeons cooing under a Damascus moon

He dreamed of a new home, a place to breathe far from the tides of injustice that swept him

the sorrow that fill him, the hunger that brought him, to these unforgiving shores.

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