Poetry at Sangam



Land of Loss by Sholeh Wolpé



You wrap the bed sheet
around your naked waist,
go to the window,
light up a cigarette.
The painted balcony
that juts out from the heart
of this dilapidated apartment
creaks bilingual sighs.
You smell of things distant:
lemon groves and gun powder
almond blossoms and dust.
It is almost noon
and the sky has thrown
its searchlight on your shaved head.
A cool breeze investigates
the scars on your chest.
A truck passes by,
releases its city smells.
Our passports lie
on the Formica table
side by side, two countries
at war.
There is no escape
from the pictures in our passports,
their rows of numbers
and letters of the alphabet
that can easily rearrange
to spell out open windows,
daffodils and happy feet—
but don’t.
←Sholeh Wolpé