falling into revolution

by Nariman Youssef

(written between May 2011 & October 2012)

I’m walking back from a dream where man-made canals
led to shopping malls of disaster and beauty,
where once I was saved from a sinister bus stop
by the smell of rain and the thought of sailing,
walking back from a black cushion and a wooden table
and these postcards blue-tacked to the wall and an empty
wine glass in lightning greens and all of it
in a mirror the size of my palm
reflected and reversed,
walking back from the early hours of grown-up
armed with a jar and a spoon, tripping
on the rhythmic possibilities of coffee and words.

Coming home
to a sand-dunes-and-sea-water-skied
cube of sunlight and dust,

to a sharp intake of breath
I have all my life anticipated and denied,
to a window overlooking a blackened river
where crocodiles were once
a picture-book memory
or a rumour, to a bed
lined with childhood loves and broken glass,
to the nightly thorns of self-censorship
and the strangely comforting echoes
of every fight I had with my mother.

Someone once told me I had
a wealth of life locked
in a room I dared not enter.
I didn’t have the key and neither did he
but he made me wonder
why is it
that I only write
about small or distant things,
as if growing up was nothing
but an accumulation of questions in rooms.

This room
doubled in a mirror the size of my palm
is my universe tonight.

You are a bunch of keys I’m holding
and instead of looking for the door
I trace shapes and marvel
about the cold lightness
against my palm.

You are the temple I’ve been circling
not daring to enter.

You are the ghost I’ve been kissing in my dreams
and now that you’re here
holding my breath in your lungs and wavering
on the edge of falling into a well of
well-wishing every bruise
I’ve ever had until it heals,
I’m quietly slipping out of your reach
leaning back against the wall to look
down at my hands and count
jagged edges on keys
that never tasted the entrails of a lock.

Our whole lives are covered
in a scaffolding of lies
to hold together or
for easy access
I don’t know.

But I’m changing the name of the game
to gratitude.
If in order to give to you
I have to fashion myself
a self that you will see and receive
then I won’t.
Instead I will learn to take
and be grateful
for the mere idea
of a co-existence
where we have tried this and failed.

Because it did feel 
very much like falling in love
which must be why
every time I grieve
for a tired heart
I find myself back in that moment
where nothing mattered but a multitude of hearts
their voices reflected and refracted
in the honesty of a sky
that was getting bluer by the minute.

Now we’re all half broken
back where we didn’t start
back to a place we’ve never been
roughened by its waiting to receive us.

So what if we’re doomed to oblivion
a whole generation lost
down the spiral of its love
for itself.
Something else
some other time
will prevail.

Every nightmare begins a dream
and I just need to sleep
and I’m never going to find
the door to that temple
unless you show me
but then again
I probably won’t believe you
when you do.