Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dreams From Syria

I The Night

The moon peers through haze
like a woman’s gaze through the mesh
of her veil. At this hour, none show themselves -- except a cat

wandering through the stench and stone rubble
hungering for refuge, scraps. Her whine
permeates the neighborhood
with  fumes left from the day’s fighting.

In a house where the staircase leads
to an attic room, a child lies breathing
into a plastic cup -- stuffed with coal and cotton. An elastic cord
bridles his face and keeps the mask attached.

In the corner, his father weeps
grasping a string of wooden beads. Its tassel
black as the  hair of the woman
he  buried. Her slender body
turned right in the earth. The ties of her shroud -- unfastened

II The Noria

A wheel famous
for its ancient use and workmanship
remains unshelled but shadowed
by despair.

In the river a woman washes her hair
and then lets it dry in the wind .Air which has absorbed
gas and dust, the strain of hinges
holding shutters that once
locked out the heat and  flies.

Breath  that still carries
the ocean's  salt and  the ripe scent
of  olive trees -  whose oil
feeds the brass lamp. Whose wood
crafts the polished beads
of her rosary and the Tasbih
of her neighbors.

The wheel stays motionless, the wind
does not attempt to turn
and the Damascene  prays. Her fingers moist
with traces of  shampoo, almost enough
for the song of a marsh wren to stick, the sun
molting along the water’s edge.
Note -- The compelling portrait is by Syrian artist, Safwan Dahoul.


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