Don’t look at your feet, he said, or you will trip. Look straight ahead, at the far side of the room.
We crowded the staircase for a posed photo
after raiding the car park for some car-stereo O.M.D.,
illicit beers and cigarettes
our chaperones’ better sense for underage champagne.
Sparkling wine, actually.
we accepted certificates for our virginity
and waited to be stormed by the eligible batchelors.
I am still waiting.
I have told you beowulf, I hate waiting.
I wait for you to bare your teeth at me in a riding-hood smile
I anticipate shooting that smile off your face.
Smug bastard, take a hike to nowhereland.
I have no time free to send your shit into my dreams.
You better not have told me another bullshit rendition of your truth.
Thus far, I only know yours in condition, like as in conditional.
I don’t agree with that. I agree with as is.
That means eclectic – a bit new, a bit old.
A bite-sized bit in the middle.
Until ever, there will be three. I go for ply-policy.
Never put your ducks in a row. They are too easy to shoot.
Always put your eggs in the basket. It kept Moses alive.
DINNER AT ABDEL’S
The goat coming for supper was an added boon.
The invitation was so warm, sincere, it did not cross my mind to say no, thank you –
even though the taxi was a stranger
we were seven months pregnant.
We sat cross-legged at a knee-high table
dressed in blue and white
spread with kind gestures and sweet memories
I am fortunate enough to have shared.
The stars spoke to us of Islam and Islamicism
We dissected western interest in a tourist trap
I felt affronted at the lack of respect shown
to a land of faith, in a land of faith
that protects the feminine.
That was me, feeling.
Not suspicion, prejudice, fear, doubt or recrimination.
The moon tricked us into talking past midnight
we invoked spirits in German, English, French, Muslim.
For I believe that Muslim is a language all of its own.
As is any, that cares enough for its people.
I delighted in your children’s certificates and songs
loved their shyness.
I felt like part of your family.
I am grateful that you showed us around.
It made Tunisia feel like home.