Wednesday Poem

His Name is Abu Omar

Among the pulverised fragments
his father’s chair falls to its knees in prayer,
while the door ululates on a single hinge

and the iron stove cowers in the corner.
Torn curtains flutter in terror,
but only the mirror seems crazed.

Ghost-white, he sits amid
the ash and dust, the collapsed cornices
remembering his old life:

sugar lumps stirred
into a glass of black tea.
Chess with his neighbour,

children’s voices echoing
in the garden where pomegranates
grew outside the high window.

Now, among these ruins, he sits
on his bed, a Turkish pipe
turning his white beard yellow.

It’s the golden oldies from the 50s
he likes the best. Arab songs sung by
Mohamed Dia Eddine, romantic,

and melancholy with his thick black hair.
Slipping the vinyl from its Parlaphone sleeve,
he blows off the dust,

cranks up the windup handle,
closes his eyes as if in prayer,
to picture beneath

this broken wing of sky,
the living dancing the Dabke
through the wounded streets of Aleppo.

by Sue Hubbard
photo by  AFP photographer Joseph Eid