I said I would not do this again, but words are just words. We both know that.
Life takes unexpected turns and it felt right. So I’m here. Another here, flown far from there. Living another life for a little while.
I can’t tell you where I am but I can still speak it, say it. I will try to show you what I see because maybe that will be truer than the truths I can’t tell you.
So there is this.
Life here is lived with windows open. The women sit out on their front steps. They chat, wait, watch. I don’t know what they look for, but I envy them a little without knowing why.
Kids cat-call the dirt, chase plastic bags and nothing, and tell stories to the sky. As dusk thickens, they tamp the sun blaze down into the dust of the streets, as if daring it to rise again. It does, and I’m grateful.
From the floor where I sleep, I hear my neighbour cough out dreams, awkward and breathless in the next building. I fret and roll with the guttering thunder, wonder whether that’s what bomb fall sounds like.
I duck down beneath the window, keeping out of sight in my too few clothes. I know myself strange, special-unspecial, and I can live with that. I am only the paperwork.
When morning comes, the cleaner stirs my sighs into hot sweet coffee as I stretch up off the tiles and shrug on another day. I don’t look, but know him carved perfectly beautiful. Somewhere on a pedestal a world away, his face looks out in the lobby’s light, catalogue calm in marbled meditation.
Here, war is just an inch away.
And yet from the rooftop, from balcony wall, from the drapes of soft scarves, I see pleasures taken in the slow steps of life and they amaze me.
Inside I’m running. I try to slow myself, breathe in, and then let the air stream on out, with all the heart I’d give in goodbying a friend I might not see again. I tell myself to treat each moment like a kiss I’d like to keep. I try to learn to linger now.
Trucks trundle by, load and unload. An odd motorbike revs by racing no one much.
The paint peels with personality and another door sticks. The floor smudges up with stories as the day grows bright. All is written, but perhaps it won’t be read.
My feet are bare too and I wonder how my footsteps will fare in translation. Will this be understood?
In the evening the darkness crackles with machine gun fire, it’s taut and tight ‘ak-ka-ka-kak’. Words I just don’t understand.