Longlisted Poem 2013
Notting Hill and Ealing High School, London
For a good man, gone.
What’s left is
a variegated house-full of geriatric orphans
on a crumbling, winding Mediterranean street,
egyptian-blue windows and white tiles baking,
baking, beneath our feet. Stories
of a steel-plated gaze
and a place where no trees grow
where an olive tree bloomed
in a burst of resistance
and walked on two good legs
and two good hands, moulded stone,
burst forth through the Sea Gate to build
And later: groans in the jasmine-scented night,
pills dotting a mattress, cold stars, and that last dawn, alone.
A wheelchair that carries
more than it knows.
There are no photos of the time before
insulin shots and three missing toes,
shaky hands, second-generation strangers and
a diaspora of woes.
A transcontinental song of lament
for half a sea of bronzed children
with no knowledge of home.
Grandad Voyager, now further gone across
a schism wider than
the lapis lazuli of the sea.
What follows is a good memory
for the details, and prayers,
soft Arabic words dripping from chins and
clacking against our ears like rosary beads,
a bag of marbles in my throat.
The glazed china of a tear-stained cheek
with no foresight of an insidious mass blooming
a six-foot drop beneath our feet.
What remains is tigress matriarch
kindling in the distended sun,
four names inscribed on a dust-dressed door,
saltwater leaking from rust-stained eyes,
a myriad of gurgling hearts and
sighs, and, like dim-price wares,
in these words, and beneath that stone,
two hazel eyes, etched in bone.
© Syma Zitoun
- Date January 1, 2015
- Tags 2013 The Details - Longlisted Poems