I have never walked easy, knowing I live
on a floating rock so I cursed the unceasing pull
of the ground beneath my feet, made a romance
of the vastness of space.
I have always feared death.
Even when I believed Gibril
to be on the other side of my grave,
I feared death. When I settled for the grave
as just that; marble and granite (if I’m lucky,
a chair in the corner where someone and their prayer
may survive me), I still feared death. On the way back
to his apartment, I ask a boy if he’d like to live forever,
and he shakes his head—says he could not
keep his own company
for so long.
In everything, I begin backwards:
Pain & Glory was the first Almodóvar film I saw. On the street,
outside the theater, I ran into a classmate who asks me if I liked it
and I confess my ignorance. She asks: “what have you been doing
with your life?” Nothing useful,
Yes, on a hot summer day, before my mother
almost fainted, I bought the old film posters in Cairo,
even though I hadn’t seen any of the films in question,
whose hand-painted promotions now line my walls
in America. The films in question are all
on YouTube. I have no excuse.
I chose film because it was the youngest medium
of its stature, hence Welles was less daunting
than Homer. I chose poetry because I could not
concentrate long enough to write fiction. I wrote
in English because I hadn’t read
Back home, by the water, I tell my brother:
we are all lying to ourselves
if we think shit isn’t about to burn down.
And he chides me: Remember
when you were ten—the Red Sea—Baba joked
that the mansion at the end of the beach belonged
to a billionaire. So you left
when no one was looking
and walked. And walked.
Until you reached the gate
and the armed guard
with the moustache stopped you
and asked what you wanted. And you replied:
to say hello. All you wanted was to say