Black Cloud Cairo | Rushda Rafeek
Lalan, go slow. A moon ripped off
its brilliance from the nile of your gaze
and I can't distinguish between acacia
and boiled honey. Sometimes,
I hide behind mountain-side picnics
watching Saladin spit out fruit seeds, the soldiers
passing bread beaten by barefoot tambourine.
Look how piety marries the belly dancer
who lives behind laundry lines and peeled grime.
Your body smooth like Zanzibar cinnamon
half-dreaming the city soaked up in camel meat.
Fingers stuck with rubies of caliph blood. You
were born the day after a muezzin jumped off
his encore left to the sound of centuries. High
above the minaret his pigeons bloomed from
ivory clocks. The chimney-grey of Greek statues
shedding his halo stung by Bedouin bees. What good
is madness whirling through
a smoke of mummy-hunting warplanes?
Rushda Rafeek is a poet, writer and occasional artist currently based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and have been shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize UK (2017), nominated for the Pushcart Prize (USA) twice, and has won the Nazim Hikmet Prize (USA) in 2018.