2009 and sickly sunlight staggers towards
the dusk, unruly weekend-drunkards spilling
cash onto spit-studded pavements.
i do not reach adult knees
chubby pincer-finger strangling pappa's phalanges.
one step is three skidding footprints of mine.
a lovely whoosh, air-con trailing soothe into damp
elbow crooks. creeping evenings do not halt cruel
summers. so much breath clogs up in small lungs.
there is a waft of butter in the air, prelude to
greasy fingers, smudged delicacy around wide
empty-toothed mouths. the smiling lady mixes
boiled sweetcorn in silver hemisphere (where
does it cook?) and asks me if i'd like some black
i tell her to make it the spiciest she could,
lemon juice, red chilli powder, indian masala
in the gulf so poignant. scoop one ladle of
sweetcorn in paper cup. butter, butter, lemon,
pepper. stick plastic spoon. five dirhams.
mall memories. the sweetcorn waters drought-struck
tastebuds. grubby fingers that taste like salt.
hypermarket food samples, toothpick in fried sausages,
cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, chocolate cupcakes.
the recollection is as loud as the void of those unruly days.
childhood fools do not cry. childhood teeth tear gums
into graveyard wounds. childhood tongues
die so early.
rift is alone now.
sweetcorn, sweetmouth, sweetmemory. unwrap the lollipop. let it explode on your tongue. twist the essence of strawberry around your mouth. remind yourself that living is too small. too sweet. too precious. bury your fears inside me. there will be old days, cold days, better days.