By Ahmed Latif
She is fluent in dialects of ugly written in beautiful ink.
A touch of sand-kissed skin and greasy fried food lips.
The spirit of timelessness washed up on this shore, but it didn’t have time to stay.
We are robbed before the arrival of riches. Shipping not included.
Neon bags of money in nooses hanging from plastic palm trees.
All these shrill thrills but no escapades tonight.
We call her the patron saint of pebbles and lost pauses.
She has something to say but we’re all incredulous.
‘You are heavier with all your gold.
Light as a father with all your uneasy jokes.
Don’t listen to the highs, the mirrors, or the pain.
Listen to the chilled night air, the empty restaurant, and those cool pillows.
Easy is where the street starts and we always meet in the alley at the end.’
We ask her to crack a smile.
She shakes her head and says ‘Understanding comes too late.’
She gently hisses that we are failing again.
We didn’t peak too early. We’re just done with the mountaintops for now.
We like it here at sea-level.
The sunset here isn’t some velvety promise of tomorrow.
It’s a rose-coloured gesture of gratitude, flush with sincerity, for today.
She plants principles and watches the roots dig into our flesh.
It’s a hot chocolate for the soul, a blanket under the skin.
She tells me to keep my heart tatted and my eyes teary.
I nod to the beat of the truth she sings.
She closes her eyes, and basks in the shine of being right or wrong.
The sun shines too brightly on us Babylonians. The last hurrah is overrated.
‘The moment isn’t a prison comprised of mediocrity.
It’s a breather for all you asthmatics.’ She proclaims.
She’s right. She raises her closed fist holding an inhaler.
I still see her in the visions I call home. And she still tells me lovingly:
‘Society always needed as much compassion as oxygen.’