by George Szirtes

Look, there are pearls of rain that hang and drip
in the grey light. There’s the high wall with its fists
of flint, and the leaves with their green palms
open to the sky, till a gust exposes their delicate wrists
and they shudder and lift and the grey light remains.
And this is what’s strange, this being anywhere
with a familiar incomprehensibility, the birds
familiar to the sky, relaxed in its homely air,
yet mad and otherwise, strange even to themselves.
You sit at your table, friend, at home with the curious
paraphernalia of your body as I am with mine.
I feel our peculiar, polyvalent, unutterably various
languages shifting underfoot. To me the names
I pass between my lips – Algiers,Tunis, Rabat –
are as fresh clothes in which my body is renewed.
May your fresh clothes be mine. May the desert
at your feet burn mine.

Last updated December 21, 2022