a streetscape in Beirut, Lebanon

Thunderstorm in Glasgow,
July 25, 2013

splattered drops of blue ink

Rattle my heart, four-chambered sound

loosen my language from my teeth

tumble raaed out from a fallow throat

and a forgotten year

a heart

when hunched in barracks beneath the rain

that gushed from gutters, corrugated roofs

one sister clutched her mother’s hand

and one strained, strained against her grip

wanting the wet, the loud, the dark, the bright,

to shake hands with that searing flash

and make it her friend.

a heart

Say aasfi, say ghaymi,

unbury the words with this digging rain,

remember how gardens seemed to sprout from stone

as water struck it, drops unnumbered

fountaining upwards as if to try

for a place in the sky again.

a heart

Say aaskar, say hammam,

recall wondering why soldiers

needed such a big bathroom anyway—

while the storm sluiced over eaves and doors

and stirred into the sea—

a heart

gather the words like clouds to burst,

but remember too, the vicious truth:

when the sky lashed hard and cracked the air,

when you hipped your fists and stared it down,

shouting patience, shouting peace

as only a child can—

you left raaed, ghaymi, aasfi, hammam,

aaskar in your mother’s hand,

spoke English to the rain.

a heart