fairouz is searching for a pair of eyes

By | 5 December 2019

the colour of a country
& in the national gallery of art i find
hers staring at me from within the body

of a new woman a spectacle of light
caught mid conversation

in the limelight nearby i tell her
we are not entitled to know the body yet
it will escape us like it always does
one foot in front of the other

to figure a border i’ve been told
you must first start with the body

in the fresco of a bathing woman
you can see the effect of its creator’s
breath left on the plaster at the edge
of the painting where the edge
is purposeful

unlike baladi in the 20th century
‘created almost by accident’

we know how a single sneeze from the right
white nose can cut open a new country

water spills out of the woman’s face
like a harvest                    

each pigment wept
into position then i move on


they say we owe it to god’s
country to mark our distance from
its beginning its unprimed canvas its one
rosary eye

so while in the westness i try
to find her a country of our own
making but each museum is a mirror in
mourning each sky a stolen artifact

homeland-less again
i return to our cities
and on those same

balconies nearby women
ululate          their welcome        
through the air                  like a bird
glistening against                
the limestone        


on my way back from the future          i discover for fairouz an almost-country
a mountain of turquoise                                
cloud hiding in the desert                                

what she wished for        
that one wellspring        
of a song called ‘wattani’

she asks me to bring it home        
mid-air it dissolves                
its architecture                        


akh! ya albi        it’s almost as if        
this new mesopotamia doesn’t want to be found

hiding somewhere
in a madaba-like mosaic
bare in the basement of
an unknown church

still        fairouz chases the silhouette
of its dream on the behalf
of storms everywhere

I am lost and have been lost for centuries.
The instructions are missing and I am tired.
I would like to stop looking by myself for a while.


fairouz is searching for a
country the colour
of a pair of eyes
with a harvest like
the dawning of a face
so i draw on her eye
brows with a felt pen
i stretch her skin with
total intent i hope to put
all sneezes wa their endless
consequences behind me
since it is written that
to body the edge of
a border first you must
open its figure first
you start with its eyes


في معهد فن الفسيفساء والترميم
i ask my instructor how easy it is to forget origin
how difficult it is to restore a whole of fragments
to re-build a body post-partition                
she says                  whatever you do
mosaics are pixelated                
you can’t ask a tessera to be other
than what it is          يا زين        
it would do you well to remember
not every mosaic can be protected
from time wa its burglars


in my dream i’m on aunti zein’s
porch painting a blue peninsula into
the sky named fairouz in the near distance
the dead sea makes her first appearance four
hundred wa twenty three new metres above
place sixty point eight kilometres too close
for comfort each pillar the old sea brings
with it sits tight in the garden right below
our family’s oldest possession a country
of light drawn fresh wa free-hand


but these women
welcoming us
to a home mismade
how they body
the air in the dents
of their frame
how among
our elders an argeeleh
pipe travels
how the cards
are lost slowly
sheikh by sheikh


multiple modes of sensation cannot exist without suffering. the old masters. how well they
understood. of acclimation too the flesh can make itself a master. if the sky changes tone the brush tips
must charge onwards. our hands must negotiate the unanticipated one gradual mixture at a time. to
create you must accept the human position. accept the gradience you cannot change with a flexible
wrist. hold your palette close to the heart of your eyes. do not forget the canvas begins as a desert.
neither of which are blank. the brush an extension of lightning ready to make its mark. approach
both gently. trust in their ability to strike in the sand a sign you did not know you need.

when you asked me what mahmoud meant when he said
“لربما القمر ليس جميلاً
إلا لأنه بعيد”
wa i told you ‘maybe the moon is not beautiful                
except        that it is far away’        
you said translation fit my mouth perfectly
since then i’ve asked the moon to come closer every
night wa every night the moon pretends not to hear me
she turns her face away from me until all i can see is the pure
curvature of her neck        stretched like a minaret light        
in the horizon        the rest of her body
a faint border in the dark يا قمر
عيوني إليك ترحل كل يوم         
        وإنني أصلي

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