Fairouz & Yansoon

There are awkward moments before and after exchanges. Most times formalities make up three days in a row. Sometimes I hug her a little tighter and I can feel renditions of Fairouz and 90s Najwa Karam seeping through the pores of her cheeks. Most sometimes flecks of dust force their way through my chest and come out the other way. I’m not sure where the hurt is but sometimes it’s everywhere. I can’t remember her when I see her. When she talks about two year old me flushing bills down the toilet the flecks of dust get trapped inside and burst into flames, disappearing right after I recognise her. Somewhere along the turbulence I lost a mother that still says she’ll always love me.

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Misplaced Love

You turned off the lights

And I know you shared my wonder

At my mistimed urge for modesty

It wasn’t our first time

But this time you were peeling

The layers away from the inside

Bare shoulders, I embraced the nostalgia

But it didn’t matter anymore

Because I didn’t need to try

So desperately to remember your scent

Aquarius we angered more than just the planets

And you filled all the pores within my skin

With your air that your lips could

Finally part with

And I do remember floating

As the windowless room ached

With light reflected off your sister’s

watching mirror

And that’s how I remember anything else

Obscured through that mirror

That can’t see how

Now parts of you float within

My body of water

That constantly tries to drown itself

Because “I miss you” hurts a little more

After the lips that finally breathed me

Could utter that they hated me too

Shawarma tastes different when I’m single;

“Okay lets plan, what are we going to do?” It was a year long separation that floated many unknowns and drowned many expectations. We dressed our emotions in polyvinyl chloride and threw them into the ocean. I thought about my feelings being out of place and dolphins suffocating on plastic. I think you thought about me losing those feelings as they travelled across the seas. The oceans between us were lengthy and the year degraded into months slower than PVC. The oceans swallowed the sun at all times of the day or the night and the moonlight sprinkled on the edge of their waves at all times of the day or the night. I’d say goodnight as your day started and I’d lose a breath to the oceans. I’d raise my voice at my mother and lose a breath to the oceans. I’d defend your name and than be offended by your words – and I’d lose a breath to the oceans. I think I drained my lungs into the seas long before my tears made them saltier. When I finally began to float on a thin layer of air above the seas, I was a month away from claiming what the oceans had taken away from me. When the month turned into weeks I remembered the ocean hadn’t taken anything. I had already been throwing myself into it, long before I met you. This side of the world was too large for me and the other too small. And this post is too large for it to be about shawarma but it is.

 

“Okay lets plan, what are we going to do?” The question that multiplied as the countdown began to reach its end. The only things we could come up with were eating shawarma and ice-cream together. Syria was too small for me but I crowded it with memories I pretended I wasn’t attached to. This time all I cared about was spending a year with you within the month we had. And in turn none of my memories in Syria cared about me. Eating shawarma is different when I’m single. I wanted the shawarma guy to ask me if I was the daughter of Amed Richani and praise sharing my last name. I wanted to ask him to add extra chicken and pay him more and then ask for 20 shawarmas. I wanted the feeling of worrying about garlic mayo hanging on my lip in front of hundreds of people. I wanted to be met with a sky wild with stars as I wiped the garlic off my chin. I wanted to hear the honking of horns and our group of cousins unwinding to form a line. I wanted to sit on those steps behind the gate that pealed blue and white and had been welcoming us for a quarter of a century. Greasy shawarma wrapping that had been licked clean meant it was ice-cream time at Mounir Saimoua’s shop. Amo Mounir always beamed as we crowded his shop and emptied his freezer. And someone would always say, “don’t forget vanilla ice-cream for sito, its her favourite!”

 

“Okay lets plan, what are we going to do?” We ate shawarma and we ate ice-cream. I waited in the car alone and saw neither Amo Mounir nor the shawarma guy who was related to me. The shawarma was bland and I was full half way through and the ice-cream tasted like lactose and sugar. We ate both sitting in the Chevrolet and the only sounds I heard were the car’s distinctive scraping metal on tar sound. I couldn’t see the sky. I wanted to cry as I realised I was lost in the oceans inside me.

Mother I Had Sex That Night

Mother I had sex last night
I must have forgotten I wasn’t hanging by a band
On the finger of my left hand
Perhaps I should tell you when we go back to Australia
Honour killings aren’t a thing
It didn’t just happen, things don’t just happen
These words won’t spin in either language of mine

Mother I had sex last night
I must have forgotten God’s backhand ready to ban me in some
Grand gesture of punishment
No I wasn’t coerced
Apparently I didn’t fall apart or give myself away
I saved the tears for your siblings to shed
Over the uninherited last name I’m going to stain

Mother I had sex last night
I must have forgotten the stand on the female demand for
Purity in our motherland
I didn’t feel the need to break your heart
Over something more severe then your brother drinking his family into poverty
Or the beauty of your family encouraging your niece to marry into wealthier misery

Mother I had sex last night
I must have forgotten that love was quicksand drowning me to
Hell where I’d be damned
I didn’t mean for love to hurt
But it doesn’t matter that I stopped hating myself
The stretch marks, the excess fat
The engraved loss upon my upper thighs

Mother I had sex last night
So forget to demand to have me stand before you and tell you what
You cannot withstand to know
This must be worse than that time the cold stone balcony didn’t fight the wind against my frame
It must be worse than the time the blood wouldn’t flush down the sink fast enough
Worse than my wrenching gut contouring my face with petachiae

Mother I had sex last night 

And it’s something I’ll never say

Why not three?

We worked the same hours

Him and I

Ten of them

It was after closing time

I was doing the last of the dishes and

He was rushing between the tiny back room and the fryers

“Hey Minney guess what I’m going to do, I’m going to grant you two wishes.”

Why not three?

“And I’m serious, anything you want.”

We had a good day, he was in a good mood

Why not three wishes?

“Anything I want?

I want you to never ever say anything sexist again.”

“Yup okay done!”

Yeah right,

His moustache decorated smile made him look sincere

“Also, I wish for you to advocate women’s rights and make every male you come across aware of the inequalities between sexes.”

He questions,

“But how does that benefit you?”

“It benefits everyone.”

“Out of all the things you could choose.”

“This is something that helps everyone, generations to come.”

Say it, say it,

Say that I’m such a female

Say that of course I would say something silly, I’m a woman.

“Yeah but, you have two wishes and you wished for things that aren’t for you.”

“It is for me” –

“Dad, I’m a female.”

“Okay Minney whatever you want. Your wishes are granted from now.”

But why not three?

kiss-proof smudge-proof

I talk to my sister about you

The sister that hates me the least

I talk about how I hate everything about you

And as the words bleed out

They don’t stain crimson

Because it turns out I don’t hate you at all

Instead my hands blister from agitation

And I rub yellow all over your perfectly sculpted face

Your lips remind me of a deflating parachute

They’re pretty and pink

And sometimes I wish your mum has seen them kiss his lips

Breathe 03

The conversation was significant but
The letters fell away from my parted lips
As perfectly oversized hands kindled
Imperfection escaping from my lungs
And light unrestrained from my bones
Bounced off the way your eyes recognised
A strength in my moment of weakness