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Poetry - In A Traffic Snarl In Tripoli

Anand Raghavan
10/20/2004

A moment in Tripoli with my dead father 

 

In the evening

the dust from all the deserts that encircle Tripoli climb into the air until the whole world turns pale and yellow

 

and like a fragile gentle old age

return into patterns on every car as they heave and squeeze into shrinking corners and then grow still

 

for a moment

heads sink back in distraction

I find mine in the warm old seat cover scents as my car horn exhales a muted curse

 

I look outside

into my own private peculiar world

a dry and dull fruit market where

the woman with the long black face & sad eyes encased by a brittle silk shawl tugs at my lonely fearful moment

 

the road back home is lost

it has been wrenched out of my heart by this alien place like it wrenched away my fathers many years before

she is all I and my father have left to hold onto - the woman with the long black face  - and this market square

 

how many years will it take with them to erase who we are and embrace who we will become in this new world?

family friends and familiarity dissolve

only the woman with the long black face - and her poverty - let us begin again from hereÖ

 

I was here to relive my fatherís memories until the aridness of his memories consume meÖ.

 

Ö.because I am his only son - will his fate wedge its way through my days too?

 

Let us begin again from here in silence

for without my memories

I may have nothing to say

and without my fatherís unfinished ambitions 

i could wake up and help u lift your basket of fading fruit upto this roadside kerb

 

and yet Ö

 

i can still feel the weight of the few dinars and fruits we have left each evening

will they be enough to warm our bellies and keep us quiet?

 

In new worlds I find new fears quite easily

To help me start my life again

The real questions r the ones I cant ask yet

Or perhaps the ones I may never ask

 

The road empties

cars escape in different directions

abdallah barks on in words I donít understand

laughs like a king in a way I donít understand

and moves into second gear to help me find a hotel

 

I glance into the sideview mirror

an old fatherís eyes look back at me

sadness fear and alien lands

the only roads that take me back

to commisserate

with my gentle father

 



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