Before Complicated

Author: • July 10, 2016 • Poems

slippers © chie via flickrA yellow ankle-length dress, cascading,

down the milk of a calf.  Pause to find where hem meets soil

and count backwards.  Always backwards.

Is this what Qabbani meant when he spoke of a sunrise to make a heart cave in?

Remind me of this, in a future not too far from now.  Okay?

A woman wearing an eclipse across her shoulder.

A black woman in yellow is always an eclipse.

Damascus writes this version of the story, the breath caught

in her throat, and me, cocooned in it.



Before the millennium’s crumple, the slide of asphalt

down September’s shoulder. The day a city lost its front teeth.

Before we mistook the moon’s curve

for a shiver of glass and shrapnel.

Those bric-a-brac apartments; each wall a stretch of moss and spores.  A Sudanese baker with a fine flour dust clinging to his life-raft brow,

hands us a bag of dough balls.

A sticky lemonade night, sleeping on the roof,

the way iced tea would tinkle against the throat, have us glowing

like the inside of a stoplight.

Young men in blotted dress shirts, licking ice cream off each other’s noses.

A neighbour ululates, clinking a glass

to the night’s velvet.



In this memory, I am wearing slippers. Flat-footed in the sepia-tones

of a yesteryear I have not yet left behind. Still.

Even our brand of shoes was uncomplicated.

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About the Author

Momtaza MehriAuthor: Momtaza Mehri

Country of residence: United Kingdom

Nationality: British

Mother tongue: Somali, Arabic

Momtaza Mehri is a training biomedical scientist, poet and writer who remains unsure which world came first.  Her work engages with inheritance/ psychosomatics/ ugliness and digitalised diasporas. Her work features or is forthcoming in OOMK, Hard Food, Puerto Del Sol, Elsewhere and other delights.  She also co-edits the digital space Diaspora Drama.  Anthologised in Podium Poets as part of the London Laureates longlist, her debut collection will be published in 2016.  She has been shortlisted for the 2016 Brunel African Poetry Prize.


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