1991 • page 4

Home Poetry 1991 • page 4

June 10

As we ate in the alleyway
narrow and scaffolded
the only ones,
a thin old woman approached,
her black shawl wrapped tight
around her bent flat body.
In her arms she held
a large bouquet of roses
red, pink and yellow.

She showed them to Chihab,
and I looked away,
or at her,
but I thought I saw him nod.
Whether to say, “Offer them”
or “Not interested, thank you”
I didn’t know.

I didn’t know,
and she approached me.
I smiled nicely,
said, “No, no thank you”
and turned to Chihab
who looked longingly after her,
a pained look on his face
and glassy eyes
“I wanted to buy you one.”
“You did?”
“Oh,” he said disappointed.
“Moments like that
they pass you by
and then it’s too late.”

June 11

He was angry.
An indirect, unexplained anger.
“Usually I sleep on Saturdays.”

Tiny insults: “Your shoes are always weird.”
And at the beach,
“Bien pour ta gueule,”
he repeated several times.
Glad I was cold after swimming
Glad I sprained my finger
Glad I got sunburned.

“You walk like a man,”
he told me, mimicked my walk,
exaggerated it ugly.

And he was selfish in bed
when he knows better.
Knows how angry that makes me.
Falling asleep after he comes, saying,
“Annie, I can’t.
Please don’t make me.
I’m too tired.”

June 11

The goodbye
was two kisses on the mouth
(as opposed to four on the cheek
when I first arrived).

I walked him to the door
then hid in the corner
while he waited, just there,
for the elevator to come.

Then, still in pajamas,
no underwear and
starving hungry,
I went through all his belongings.
I invaded his privacy
opened envelopes, shuffled papers,
groped through cardboard boxes.

I read letters
and looked at photos.
I was searching for photos
or rather, one in particular-
young, tan and beau pas possible.

It felt strange
and I was impatient.
So many faded
drinking pictures of
tall and skinny Chihab
with big hair
and seventies clothing.

There was whole roll
of him and some Africans
around the carcass of an animal
bloody and heavy,
a wild pig? a cow?
They all watched,
beers in hand,
while the center man
worked on it with a knife.

I finally found the picture I wanted.
Was disappointed-
he looked the same,
and not so good looking as all that.
I didn’t take it.

In the end
all I took was a
single sheet of negatives:
four photos to print,
part of the torn-up package
I sent him over a year ago.
So perhaps it’s kind of mine.

Now I regret
not having taken
the pretty boy photo,
and more I regret
leaving behind
the photo of him in his youth.

A group of young, tanned Arab boys,
all in swim suits
leaning up against a rock,
and Chihab is on the right
one knee bent up
on a shelf of the rock.
HIs arms support his leaning body,
and his face squints
tough into the sun.