Credit: Harriet Yakub

August 23

Here, you write the sky
a signal
for the bill.

Barely a sigh —
the waiter comes.

He is paid four euros
an hour to clap
when the sun goes behind the mountains.

Straight down this time. The rain.



September 1

Rain. People
in the hospital.

A girl’s face lights at the sticker of a nymph
on a filing cabinet. At the stuck earth of a hillside

a boy stares out. He would walk into the rain, slowly
he could, if only, be rounded by the drop. The thumping rounds

of a mother, up and down the hospital floor,
dull the ache of seeing her daughter like this.

Like this, the boy thinks, glints at a life outside of showers,
in the gamble with a forest under moonlight —

I’m listening to a bird I cannot see in the park;
it’s green so it’s not easy to find in a green tree

whose oily leaves drip over me. The intention
of the eucalyptus to turn me pious,

to grow again in the ashes of our neighbours
than endure the dead-end of ever-presence.

The girl is dressed like a river, blue hooded,
the lips of her mouth and eyes stay open in surgery,

as if calling out to that gargled boy who stays and stares
at the paper aftermath on the filing cabinet.

A mother forgets her daughter’s bright pink cardigan
in the hospital’s donation box.

A boy and a girl were not apart.
They are apart now.

Me and the tree;
the flint-spark of a bird.



September 2

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre.

The view
of this city or vision
of the lucky
but not looking
man on his phone,
he says to me: people (we need them)
say (it) living in this city
is like (he wouldn’t say so) living
in a cave (how could we admit it?)
that it gives the impression
of slums (does he run from it,
the heated instrument
of some city he loved
before it cauterised his mind?)

The phone glows
and the evening glares
and the photos
he wants no one to know
they show up
the man; the blue light
is an ink trace
for the intersection of places
through a heart
like a stake.
His incandescent face,
tufted but not tougher
than the spat-out grass
below, its thirsting furrows
sway; the way
he misses this
and everything
and mercy.

They stood like cardboard boxes
the houses, next to him
a sweating Aegean
and the happenstance route of trees
across the roofs,
their whorled waving.
He didn’t know
about the seagull,
its plum lower lip
and quiet reassurance of steps;
the shared hush in the breaths
of man / bird / wave,
their crash.

The bird
is a bolt to the heart,
a fitful white
spinning through the sky,
its laughing larceny, sun-crooked wings.
Everyone can afford, at least,
to love this.
The man drops
his phone tumbles
into the grass
like a shot bird.
When he looks up
at those houses —
they’re sneaking up the mountain.