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Guantanimation I: Unless We

I know the house from the crooked moon
The slim silver palm tree
The smell of cardamom and green coffee
And my mother’s abaya robe.
I know the house from the children playing in the courtyard
From the aroma of spicy rice and baked pastry.
I know the house. A few goats grazing in the distance
A flock of school children skidding together.
And incantations: May Allah protect you wherever you go: East or West.
I know the house from the jasmine tree clinging to the veranda.
From the salt blowing from the Red Sea
My wife’s broken tooth, broken heart

My cage overlooks the sea
I hold the salty air in my lungs as long as I can
Until I see you running towards me
Until they throw a bucket of water over my head.
I don’t love or hate my interrogator
Stars and strips
It’s all irrelevant to me

A Saudi village with no petrol
A limitless horizon, sand dunes
Desert storms that veil the sun
And the heart blowing like a balancing sail.
‘We have to go to the city hospital unless we build one right here.’
Drip irrigation and gardens

My cage is by the sea.
I hold on to the scent of ripe dates
Until the interrogator throws a bucket of water over my head.
I say I don’t know
He says you know
And then he takes me for a walk.
An orange dog

I know my house, sun in the lounge
I know my house, her headscarf on the sofa
Rice, raisins, honey and ghee
I hold on to that until my lungs collapse
I chew my tongue

I see my blood like henna
tattooed on hand after hand after hand . . .