you smell faintly of cucumber soap, love.
the scent is here, and there,
on the nape of your neck, soft of your belly,
turn of your wrists.
each nub, slip of your spine
maps a back, I know too well. now, I
touch, each vertebrae, with my mouth,
a quiet rehearsal, whisper words
beginning with x in your ear-
xylophone, xsturgy, xerox.
you turn, make a lowing kind of noise,
eyelids flickering, easing into a smile.
your feet are cold, feel the nudge of your toes, slotting
into mine. you must have left the bed, earlier
for them to be so cool, gently
as you always did, looking
over your shoulder, quiet so not
to wake me. perhaps you made some tea,
stood in the half light of the kitchen,
chipped mug in your hand, lingering,
grey lino chill on the balls of your feet
then padded back to me, all slow and lovely,
pulled the blanket back, slide in, folded me
into you, wrap me lithe, in the curve of you, round
dew of your kisses, damp on my cheek,
trappings of your arms
a tender that I just-
I couldn’t account for.
“There’s the part you braced yourself for, and then there’s the other part.”
- The Mountain Goats, “Liza Forever Minelli”
How does the sea swallow the mountains?
How does rain shatter stone?
A thousand tiny kisses.
Until waking, walking unaided is impossible:
until the only certainty is the sun’s bedraggled rise:
and all is of little value.
I ask forgiveness from those around me.
This is the time when the soul is dragged back into the body
like a wild animal, from its long, wide, roaming-ground;
bathed, dripping, honeyed in the light from which it was born
to which it must one day return
and these cave-wall shadows shield our eyes from the light.
So life proceeds in reverse, the coffee-cup
leaping into your hands and reassembling
the birds swallowing their dawn chorus
There’s sleep in your eyes still.
I never thought I’d see the sun so close.
In sleep, we wake: on waking, we dream.
Each Arab morning I am woken up
by thunderstorms; the Arab nightmare.
When dawn breaks over the pyramids
war breaks out in their shadow,
and the fireworks that lit up Tunis
come down as shells in Tripoli.
A million mocked by the Kingdom’s hand.
Aleppo’s heart devoured by vultures.
The hands of the clock complete their tours of duty;
swarms of Arab seconds overrun the tyrant minutes,
each big hand revolution beheads another Arab hour,
and phosphorescence illuminates our history:
the rise and fall of patriots and seasons.
I woke up to an Arab spring
but the falling of a million leaves
choked the Red Sea and the White, and now
when dawn besieges the pyramids
dogs growl with black flags in their teeth,
and the Arab winter clouds my breath in smoke.