He Talks of Growing Pains

On a carpet woven with shadows,
Long since our feet drank the sand,
Words trickle down, an empty well with a
Bucket that keeps slipping,
A firm palm against the back of the remote
Earns a small whinny, it plows forward again,
To the next channel, National Geographic Abu Dhabi,
Yellow washes over our faces,
Indifferent narration swims between our ears,
Grainy footage of a grain-filled landscape
Reflected in my father’s eyes, he looks at home,
Crouching men clad in white, one picked up a feather,
“One moment,” the men cannot hear,

“I think that’s my brother,”
With an expression
Faraway, tucked into memory.

Patient until the waves had calmed
And the past hung just in reach
Not lost in the horizon,
He rose to his feet to chase it
Before everything was swept away
By a breeze or browned palm fronds.

“ It was all before me, of course,
Before me

Simple lives began head-first like all others,
When did it get so important to write things down

Old ghost castle in Hamriya- how can I take you there-
Rejoins the sand, look to the future,

Deep beige or reddish yellow,
An extension of the darkened feet

Pressing the edges of the plot,
Securing the elegant steed

Persian Gulf in a tight embrace,
Horizons looking incredibly far; over the sea

Hungry dhows with their mouths too full
Locate the creek and regurgitate,

Sepia tales are woven with palm fronds
Singing of being trapped on a heatwave

No justice can be done to what once was
Raining every day, like Paris

Certifying birth- flesh and skin,
No track to keep, and for what

Circling above clock-wise,
Talons cut through the clouds, that was enough

Plucking the dates that seemed true
Amid the dunes shaped like something free

They came- who? officials, passport people-
they came, looking just by their eyes at us

They’d say “Fifteen, twenty-two, ten”,
We flew West

Kaleidoscopic eyes watch the desert
-ing of its young

At the deck of flourishing ports,
Pearly seeds, old city of gold

In their return- they who left, yes, me with them-
Shakily, one bent knee after the other, before diving all at once

10-day odyssey, packing the deserved articles,
All that was vital had wings, our eyes and theirs, the falcons

Sand never really leaves, still tucked away in the corners of eyes
All the kohl in the desert could not keep it out,

A white Suzuki jeep and open sandals,
“Thirty-three, forty, twenty eight”- we lead the way

Quiet organism stretching laboriously from humble roots,
First-of-its-kinds grow out of the cemented roads,

Forcing what was lost in the crossroad,
Foreign men make nature here now,

Holding our breath as we stretch,
Look to the future, we have eyes at the back of our heads, too

They say growing pains disappear in the morning,
“Sixty-three, seventy, fifty-eight”-

Splitting an aching body, cracking open a dry coconut,
Treating the hollowness, it swells,

In the end, there’s much homesickness for the past,
When did it get so important to remember

That was before me, of course,
Before me
The falcons snatched the clouds and hid,
But you caught me searching anyway. ”



Artwork by Matt Leines

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