Mohsen

Beautiful kid.
In yet another drunken rage,
Your father’s locked you out again.
You show up at my door
At an hour when
Only feral dogs
Roam the cramped streets
Scavenging for food.

Beautiful kid,
Your swollen face,
A ghostly apparition
Of blood, dirt and tears,
Still bears the imprint
Of your father’s fist
I’ve been warned about
Your truancy,
Your petty thefts and lies,
But your pleading eyes,
Made larger by your
Close cropped head
Deloused the other day at school,
Gain you safe passage.

Beautiful kid,
You’re a quick study.
In rudimentary English
Caged from foreigners,
You ask to spend the night.
And when I smile in assent,
You make a beeline for the shower
Where you linger for an hour
In luxurious warmth.

Beautiful kid.
You devour two fried eggs,
Baguette and jam,
Three cups of tea,
Then stretch out on the pallet
I’ve made up on the floor.
Clean, fed and happy,
You dream about
A brilliant new life
Of cowboys and tall buildings
In your own private
America

Beautiful kid,
If I were the twelve foot Salha
In the Tunisian song,
I would put you in my pocket
And carry you away
To distant lands,
But when you ask to come with me,
I hesitantly answer that “we’ll see”
One look tells me that
I’ve stolen all your dreams
And that you’re not
The only thief and liar
In the room.

(Originally published in Knot Magazine)

 

mohsen

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