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  • Writer's pictureLammergeier Staff

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.

Twitter: @ryushha



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