Archive for the ‘Norhan Zaher’ Category


Prayer

by NORHAN ZAHER

If I flatten my lips,
in prayer,
against your forehead

or rest
my forehead
against your
heart

would you open to us
one massive claw?
Would you cradle
my country
in your palm?

Woolgathering

by NORHAN ZAHER

Sometimes I wish my heart
would grow white columns
and hanging plants

that when broken
it would develop into
something delicious and sinful
and mouthwatering;
like crushed sugar.

I see you
passing your fingers
over its worn edges
absentminded
or looking for it
in tea cups
as a child would
some dropped
piece of biscuit.

I see you
throwing it, like books,
into the fire
until it smelled
like woodsmoke
and ashes. Until
the fire scorched
your hands.

and I wish then
my heart was like
books rescued from fire
and lipstick-printed
handkerchiefs
gifted before
love’s farewell
well loved,
well hated.

its original color
washed-out, its edges
flame-licked,
and its texture
ragged, wrinkled,
and moth-eaten.

Broken Rib

by NORHAN ZAHER

You were something dark, rich and halting
lingering on the tip of my tongue

Not quite peppermint drops
Not quite cinnamon.

But what was I?
Braids, jasmine and fragrance?

Anything but
your broken rib.

Trifid Nebula

by NORHAN ZAHER

(I dream, sir, of the routes of my childhood
of braiding my hair,
taking off my shoes
and returning
to the old neighborhood
we grew up in

I dream of a handful
of our lost childish dreams
and childish frights
when we’d sneak into
abandoned houses,
hide from the old
tooth-less man
and hold our breath
as he shouts
endless threats
of how he’d tell our parents
and how the house was alive
and hungry

Oh, how do I long
to walk the soils of childhood again
with you.)

We’ve lost some of our innocence
we’ve changed;

Neither will you return
to compare my eyes to
Trifid Nebula

nor will we once again believe
in miracles till illusion,
in love till rebellion
and in dreams
till foolishness

The future
we once measured
in lights years
has outlived us

As we sat
in our separate balconies
you, painting a sky without a sun
and me, a sun without light

Do you still go back to
these ancient houses?
walk among the ruins alone?
visit the old man’s grave
and curse as you trip over
the uneven broken roads
you once knew so well?

you told me once that
all roads lead to Rome
and all rivers pour into
the same ocean

yet we grew to understand
differently

for, after all, it was
lovers that roads swallow
not paths

(I dream, sir, of the routes to you
and my childhood
for reality has destroyed the virtuous cities
in me and you)

*Trifid Nebula: A ‘stellar nursery’ full of embryonic stars, it is where new stars are born.

In the Eyes of the Beholder

by NORHAN ZAHER

Place me
-a stone nymph-
upon the veins of marble

shocking, proud
and shameless

Myriads of scented candles
have a way of making
even a sin seem

sacred.

– I am no goddess –

yet he painted me
-a mixture of
sunshine, halo
and rosewater-

wingless.

and I wondered
how can he not distinguish
between

a fallen angel
and a fallen

soul.

Bitnami