He Sounded Just Like Me
His voice was a park swing in the sunshine:
My fat toddler legs poked through the holes in the seat
I giggled free as I swung
Hair trailing like smoke behind me.
Eyes up to the sky
His voice was birds flying in formation to fresh climes
Wings spread. they did nothing but glide.He sounded just like me.
But he said things that I could never say.
He spoke of bombs and war
And children who know nothing
But all the terror they’ve seen—I spoke not of those things.It was nightfall between cobbled streets.
At a pub in a village, between hills of green;
I was introduced to him because
We were both Syrian.He said, “oh, we always find each other, don’t we?”
What did he mean?
I had been searching for him in places he did not hide.
The olive of my skin crouched under the white;
Sheepish to claim his heritage as mine.There’s a baby in the comer of the pub, wrapped in blankets
While her mother smokes a spliff with the midwife
Out in the street.A formers daughter asks my voice where he’s from:
“Syria” is followed by silence.
Funny how the world goes quiet
When talking of places where noise won’t cease.lt’s this uneasy laugh in exchange for the kind of scream
That begs back to life a child crushed
By the house of her mother’s old dreams.
We squished and tugged at the word ‘safe’
As if it were play dough
And he were the father I only know by name.“Safe, is West Aleppo
Where there are gunshots freckling the walls,”
The tun tun tun of machine guns mark out a dado rail
(Unlike the one in the hallway of my mum’s home
Where dust won’t settle long enough
Before she’s hoover-ing the stairs
And polishing the phone).“It is safe,” he says
Because East Aleppo no longer has walls to mark.
The bombs pulled down homes
Built by the same hands
That shared ma’amoul between these stones,And you wonder why they won’t leave?
This clay is made of pride and dignity
It shivered when brought to its knees.He spoke to me of bullets
That skimmed the backs of his friends
As they talk casually
“What is another bullet at times like these?”He spoke like me.
In the way that my words linger
In the gaps between themselves
Like we’re holding notes—
Every breath contains songs our ancestors wrote.He spoke like me.
But he spoke words that I could never say.
He spoke of children who had been raised by war
“They think the rat-tat-tat-tat of gunfire is normal.” Normal is the easiest thing to believe.
Normal is what you always see.
Normal teaches you how to be.He was charming
(Almost more charming than me).
His eyes were a deep Syrian green
I fell pregnant
with an identity I’ve always been.I am a seed of Syria that blew to the West
And grew like a crab apple tree
But my fruit is of Syria
I sound like Syria
I laugh with Syria
I cry for Syria
But how dare I cry at all?He sounds like me
Until he speaks the language I don’t speak.And then?
I watch him leave.
Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Luxx
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Lisa Luxx is a British Syrian writer, performer, philosopher and activist. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, VICE, TEDx, BBC Radio Leeds and heralded as one of the UK’s top four queer poets by Diva magazine. Her poetry and philosophy has been published by i-D, Tate Britain, New River Press, The Daily Telegraph, The International Times, Tribe de Mama (US), The Numinous (US), The Sunday Times and Sage Press (India).
Shortlisted for Peace Poetry Prize and Saboteur Awards Best Spoken Word Performer.
In 2016 she released a collection of poems and essays called The 4th Brain: a journey for connection through sisterhood, internet and revolution.
‘“This work will be remembered long after we, we are all gone“— Salena Godden
Sukoon is an independent, online literary journal, publishing Arab-themed art and literature in English.
The aim is to showcase the diversity of ‘Arab’ identity and experience within the Anglophone literary landscape, in order to escape narrow perceptions and understandings of the term. And just as importantly, to carve out a natural and necessary space for the Arab anglophone narrative to exist within the anglophone literary landscape. Writers and artists need not be of Arab descent, as long as they have an Arab-themed experience to contribute.