Where is My Country
This poem was published in the April 2022 edition of Font (fontmag.ca). The accompanying photo is a something I took in Egypt many moons ago, and then played with.
Where is my goddamn country
whose floods disarm roads and
neighbours track the shame
of torn bras and underwear in the rain.
Don’t you look don’t you turn away
don’t you leave this is my country
let me see your travel papers
thwak! my stamp my face my words
my language impossible to leave without it
promises detain me
I’m not going anywhere today.
Where is my country?
The one I wrote about but in the wrong
accent saying things I never meant
as the wheels sucked up the clay from the riverbed
and sprayed it onto our faces
hardening into masks that hurt when we smiled
not that we tried, it wasn’t that kind of wild.
It was the time you held out your hands
at the border crossing and the agent said
I know another name we can call you and that was that
you fled like the coward you are, my history
is full of people like you. Where is my country?
A cliff leaning against the ocean where you hold my arms
behind my back and spread my legs
for inspection with the tip of your soft boot.
You ask where was I born
who were my parents why did I leave
who sent me in whom do I believe
until it’s too much even for you and
my laughter cuts your serious face
Where is my country.
Too many allegiances what a luxury to have
just one language one religion one mountain one
valley one lover, you know, that country.
The one we saw in a movie
where he smiled like a compass
and she said look at me like you mean it
look at me like you know me
like your dreams aren’t full of weaponry
like the length of your arms aren’t a boundary
and he did and when no one
was watching she handed
him her passport
* * *