Friday, December 25, 2009

Valentine by John Fuller

The things about you I appreciate may seem indelicate:
I’d like to find you in the shower
And chase the soap for half an hour.
I’d like to have you in my power and see your eyes dilate.
I’d like to have your back to scour
And other parts to lubricate.
Sometimes I feel it is my fate
To chase you screaming up a tower
or make you cower

By asking you to differentiate Nietzsche from Schopenhauer.
I’d like to successfully guess your weight and win you at a f├ęte.
I’d like to offer you a flower.

I like the hair upon your shoulders,
Falling like water over boulders.
I like the shoulders, too: they are essential.
Your collar-bones have great potential
(I’d like to see your particulars in folders marked Confidential).

I like your cheeks, I like your nose,
I like the way your lips disclose
The neat arrangement of your teeth
(Half above and half beneath) in rows.

I like your eyes, I like their fringes.
The way they focus on me gives me twinges.
Your upper arms drive me berserk.
I like the way your elbows work, on hinges.

I like your wrists, I like your glands,
I like the fingers on your hands.
I’d like to teach them how to count,
And certain things we might exchange,
Something familiar for something strange.
I’d like to give you just the right amount and get some change.

I like it when you tilt your neck up.
I like the way you nod and hold a teacup.

I like your legs when you unwind them.
Even in trousers I don’t mind them.
I like each softly-moulded kneecap.
I like the little crease behind them.
I’d always know, without a recap, where to find them.

I like the sculpture of your ears.
I like the way your profile disappears
Whenever you decide to turn and face me.
I’d like to cross two hemispheres and have you chase me.
I’d like to smuggle you across frontiers
Or sail with you at night into Tangiers.
I’d like you to embrace me.

I’d like to see you ironing your skirt and cancelling other dates.
I’d like to button up your shirt.
I like the way your chest inflates.
I’d like to soothe you when you’re hurt
Or frightened senseless by invertebrates.

I’d like you even if you were malign
And had a yen for sudden homicide.
I’d let you put insecticide into my wine.
I’d even like you if you were the Bride of Frankenstein
Or something ghoulish out of Mamoulian’s Jekyll and Hyde.
I’d even like you as my Julian of Norwich or Cathleen in Houlihan.
How melodramatic
If you were something muttering in attics
Like Mrs Rochester or a student of boolean mathematics.

You are the end of self-abuse.
You are the eternal feminine.
I’d like to find a good excuse
To call on you and find you in.
I’d like to put my hand beneath your chin. And see you grin.
I’d like to taste your Charlotte Russe,
I’d like to feel my lips upon your skin,
I’d like to make you reproduce.

I’d like you in my confidence.
I’d like to be your second look.
I’d like to let you try the French Defence and mate you with my rook.
I’d like to be your preference and hence
I’d like to be around when you unhook.
I’d like to be your only audience,
The final name in your appointment book, your future tense.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

3rd of December

Zainab stared at her reflection in the mirror as she adjusted her graduation cap on top of her hijab. There was a knock on the door and her little sister peeked in smiling. "We are waiting for you hurry!" she exclaimed. Zainab turned back to the mirror with a lazy wave to her sister. She wanted to look good for today was an important day. She pursued her lips together and watched as her dimples formed at the corners of her mouth. One last thing and she would be ready. She reached for her top drawer and pulled a tiny jewelery box. Her fingers trembled as she opened the box to pull out a simple gold chain with an inscription on the clasp.

Zainab turned the chain to read the inscription even though it was permanently engraved in her heart when there was another urgent knock on her door. "Zainab," came a gruff voice. Her father's body was framed by the door as he smiled beguilingly at her. His eyes seemed to be dancing today and Zainab hadn't seen that look for years. Actually the last time she had seen that look was 20 years ago when she was 9. Then the color drained from his face as his eyes saw what was clasped in Zainab's hand. Ali Dheer, Zainab's dad, stomped into the room and made to grab the necklace from Zainab but she was too fast for him and she stowed it in her clothing. "Give it to me!". "No! Abo please I am begging you please not today." Zainab started sobbing as her father glared at her and beckoned with his hand for her to hand over the necklace. Zainab slowly opened her hand and let the necklace slip through her fingers into her father's waiting palm. Ali turned on his heels and walked out of his daughter's room.

15 mins later Zainab emerged from the house and joined her family as they set out for The Shamo Hotel. Every couple of feet Zainab heard her name being called out as neighbours and well wishers congratulated her. You see today Zainab was graduating as a doctor of medicine. She was 29 years old and against all odds was graduating with a degree in Somalia, of all places. A land that had been written off by many of its inhabitants as well as the world. A land that her family had called home for the last 10 years. A land that she once was ashamed to call her own but now held a special place in her heart. Her heart was slowly filling with happiness as she forgot what happened earlier. She held on to her sister's hands as she cast her eyes around to look for her fellow graduates making their way to the ceremony.

"Zainab!"............"Cadde!" It was her best friend. She walked faster to catch up with him and his family. He looked dapper today with his cap and gown. He even seemed to have shaved off his wadaad beard. Zainab smiled playfully at him as she raised her eyebrows in appreciation. As they neared the venue their group expanded as more of Zainab's class mates joined them. Pretty soon they were a mass of noisy conversations, chuckles, giggles, hugs and kisses making its way into the hallways of The Shamo Hotel. The place looked transformed as Zainab noticed the stage and the podium. She also noted the placement of their chairs, those red velvet lined chairs that would usher in a new era for all of them. They were the second class graduating from Benadir University. "Okay everyone take your places!" came one of their professor's voice.

Zainab felt someone tugging at her robe and she turned to see who it was. It was her little sister and she motioned for Zainab to lower her head. As Zainab lowered her head her sister's hands circled around her neck and Zainab felt the light weight of a necklace on her neck. Zainab turned her wide eyes to her sister as she twirled the necklace between her fingers. Her sister gave her a kiss and whispered "We all love you Zainab". As the place quieted down for the beginning of the ceremony Zainab counted how many ministers had turned up for the ceremony. She could recognize only three but she was pretty sure the other two guys sitting by them were also ministers for they all had an official looking face. All the journalists were jostling for position as one by one the dignitaries were introduced. Zainab's heart was pounding as she looked at the sea of people around her. As one of the dignitaries got up to talk Zainab tried to find her father in the crowd. She looked for his snow dusted, short, cropped hair and she found him three rows behind the journalists. She tried to catch his eye as a woman sitting by him got up from her seat and made her way to the front.

Zainab watched as the woman reached underneath her robes to adjust something. Something about the woman wasn't right. Zainab couldn't place her finger on it and turned to ask Cadde's opinion when she felt then heard an explosion rock the hall. She felt her body being propelled a few feet away as dust enveloped the hall. There was turmoil and confusion as people panicked to get out of the hall. Zainab tried to open her eyes wider to adjust to the sudden loss of light but she couldn't see anything except for blurred objects. Noise was reaching her intermittently as she gingerly tried to get up from her position. She didn't have any strength in her and there was blood on the ground. Zainab looked as the pool of blood got bigger and darker. It was deoxygenated blood thus must be coming from the pulmonary artery, she thought amusingly, as that piece of knowledge from her first anatomy class resurfaced.

Someone kneeled over her as she tried yet again to move. It was Cadde. He was speaking to her but she couldn't hear him nor could she say anything to him. Her body was getting cold and she was going in and out of consciousness. "Zainab! Zainab! stay with me, stay awake you have to stay awake!" Cadde urged her as he felt along her body trying to find the source of the blood. His fingers found a piece of iron wedged firmly underneath Zainab left breast. Cadde looked around trying to find one of the professors. He couldn't do this! He wasn't a doctor. Zainab was. He was just an engineer. All around him Cadde saw bodies crying for help or bleeding to death. The air itself felt heavy around him and he barely could draw in air. As he held Zainab's hand Cadde sent a prayer to God asking him to save this girl that was so brave. This girl that withstood all that was thrown to her. This girl who had been his friend and confidant for the past five years. Cadde leaned down to beg Zainab to hold on and as he did Zainab thrust something in his hand. Cadde watched as her hand fell away from him and knew Zainab was gone.

In his hand lay a simple gold necklace with an inscription "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams".