Al Sham

By Farrah Akbik

I want to lay my head in the lap of Ghouta,
Dull my senses with pomegranate wine.
Drift like Ophelia down the river Barada,
Lose myself  betwixt the jasmine vines.

I want to run along the Grand Umayyad Mosque,
Just as I did when a small child.
Tie a ribbon at the shrine of John the Baptist;
The last time I visited I’m sure he smiled.

I want to prostrate my body; place my face upon the carpet.
Think of all the tears that proceeded mine.
A Roman temple, a church…a mosque.
Do we not all plead to the same Divine?

I want my first love, my one, my only,
My breath, my soul, my heart…my whole.
I drank but one drop of your spring;
With it you bewitched me like the Jinn.

I want to lay upon the ottoman in the Azm Palace;
Forfeit my thoughts, count its pearls.
Listen to the birds singing in the quince tree,
As the sun rays dance upon my curls.

I want my favourite shisha café;
A cup of tea or two.
Dear story-teller:
Pray tell me what Scheherazade would do?
I want a leisurely walk through your labyrinth;
As if I were travelling through your veins.
To feel your heartbeat through the cobbles;
To dance madly underneath your rain.

I want to sit upon Mount Qasioun once more,
To read your future in my coffee cup.
To eat sunflower seeds and drop the shells to the floor.
To sit and watch Damascus sleep.

I want to drown in my memories lest they fade;
The demise of Aleppo, a price yet to be paid.
Sweet Gabriel spread your wings and comply,
Shield my Damascus from the barrels in the sky.

*Farrah Akbik is a British Syrian poet, based in London.

*Al Sham , another name for Damascus.




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