Christine Aziz is a British writer living in Cairo, Egypt, who has also lived in Alexandria. Her love affair with the city continues. She was a freelance journalist for many years before her first novel, The Olive Readers, won a major literary award in the UK. At present she is working on her second book based on her experiences in Alexandria shortly after the Revolution in 2011. Before moving to Egypt she taught creative writing at the Arts University, Bournemouth, Dorset, and continues to write poetry, inspired by Egypt and, of course, her beloved Alexandria.
Her blog, www.wordsfromarevolution.com includes her poetry and commentary on events in Egypt.
I hover above the city, wingless,
every bone as thin as string,
taut as an horizon. Below –
a crumbling labyrinth of catacombs,
brick dust rising in a desert wind,
shops of fading Greek and French,
a Jew hobbling, the scent of sea.
I was there once, earthbound,
rooted in your hand, tamed by crumbs,
shedding songs for you
of love and distant lands.
I curved my eyes around your limbs,
your kisses lay like prayer beads upon my skin.
You were my spell, my augury of loss.
In a lens of refracted light beyond sight,
I see your heart, a bruise never hushed,
Incurable, tucked inside you like a knife
in a sheath, ticking as you stalk the streets,
a skilfully moving dream hunting sex.
You watched me once – a scandalous leaving –
sifting through shutters, floating from the terrace,
my backward glance, a broken arrow.
One day I’ll return: a windblown hag
falling from the sky, an aborted planet,
landing where the bay curves
and the candy floss seller blows his horn.
You won’t know me
A room spillfull of twilight.
I study Arabic.
Verbs, roots, conjugations.
Yeraf. Ye’eesh. Yesadda’
To know. To live. To believe.
You replay yesterday. Alexandria.
Sound of bullets. Women screaming.
Ye’tel. Yekhon. Yesakkat.
To kill. To betray. To oppress.
Silence returns. I drink tea.
You bury your head.
Yeheb. Yemshi. Yeazzi.
To love. To leave. To mourn.
Eleven floors above the city.
The dead float past the window.
Flocks of birds. Migrating.
Yehlam. Yetmanna. Yeteer.
To dream. To hope. To fly.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE UNMADE BED
Sheets posed, immaculate, stretched like skin,
A sealed envelope tucked and folded, broken into.
A journey begun makes outcasts of the prepared;
covers rucked – a disorder of sleep and lust.
We are adrift on this altar of broken slats,
sagging foam, dipping like a pot holed road,
a gradient that slides our sleep.
The headboard, an ugly tombstone,
rattles to our oblivion, drums against the wall.
Afterwards, in furrows, we find crumbs,
and search for love’s lost trinkets;
an earring, hairpins, a tiny Fatima’s hand pointing
to stains of darkening continents, kohl,
a long, dark hair curling – a river discovering itself,
In the microbus, along the Corniche,
where a pharaoh wept,
and waves mount concrete,
I sense the bed in mourning,
imprints of our limbs fading,
a fallow field awaiting spring.
Beyond its borders we are lost, untangled.
The day shortens like a burning cigarette.
We turn back to what has started:
an opened letter, hardly read.
Poetry in this post: © Christine Aziz
Published with the permission of Christine Aziz