Fatima El Reda

Edition February 2020

Ode to بيروت - by Fatima El Reda (Photo by Rami Kanso).pngPhoto credit: Rami Kanso

Ode to بيروت

By Fatima El Reda

you are a poem on the lips of the Mediterranean
you are a ululation in the throat of a childless mother
saying بخاطرك before every moment of departure
that she replays in her mind


you are a polaroid captured on the كورنيش

the melancholy dust on a vintage postcard

the beauty of what used to be through the lens of a foreigner

a broken car         collecting dust    taking up space                    just sitting there                  for years

you are film stuck in a rusted reel
you are what rain does to rush-hour traffic

Why do you never want to move on?

you let them cover your scars with murals
when you know that plastering bullet holes with so many shades of denial
is like trying to tape a gushing cut

for what it’s worth, you are beautiful because of your wounds
not in spite of them

you are an orange tree growing in the middle of a sidewalk
you are to be loved from across the street
because your fruit is too bitter for the fasting tongue

you are the map of yesterday
an overripe fig that won’t let go of the branch
I swear {و التّين و الزّيتون}
but you are still unconvinced of my love
you ask:
If you love me, why do you leave me?

[no answer]

you are the glass shards spreading in every direction
after a bomb explodes on a busy street
you’re a splinter trapped between skin and flesh
we touch this remnant absentmindedly
this built-in reminder of what it means to have loved and lost

we pick up the phone
say الو
you don’t answer

not anymore

this was supposed to be an ode
but, one way or another, all my songs to you end up sounding like elegies
even though I speak to you in the present tense
as if you were right before my eyes

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