Escape

— Zeina Hashem Beck

Home is not where you are born;
home is where all your attempts
to escape cease.

— Naguib Mahfouz

more & more, home is the escape

we run from

one room to another
there are no corridors
we look for locks
find wooden doors
with no latches no keys

this room has divine textiles
this room has jasmine domes
this room has cans of spray paint
this room has kalashnikovs

this room has a phone booth
with one button
it says mother
we do not press it
we are tired of
our mothers crying
our mothers are tired
of being gods

we run we run
from one language to another

this language has endless words for love
هيام is to want the labyrinth
شغف is what opens the heart’s wall
plants grass inside it

this language twists our tongues
clumsily inside our mouths
like a third kiss
we try but keep hitting
the wrong notes

all languages suicide us
they fill our throats with words
say we did it on purpose
say we speak in what chokes us
say we threw away the fish flesh
& placed the bones on a plate & feasted

we run we run
from one city to another

this city is wrapped in flags
this city is lacquered with movies
this city is heaped with trash
this city shows us birth certificates
asks us to look at our
purple thumbs for proof

all cities kill Antigone
some do it by rope
some do it by apology
some do it by promise

we run we run
I wonder

how is it
I am not panting
how is it I am not limping
how come I am not
thinking of my children

& who are you
stranger with familiar hurt
running alongside me

we laugh we laugh

this is the last gate
this is a key
leave it outside
like a doormat


Read more from Issue No. 17 or share on Facebook and Twitter.