Dreamers, before they lived a life of shadows,
a short life but long years of chasing fear,
before they found a room, sunblinds on windows,
an L-shaped desk, a home they know is here,
were children young as – most commonly – three,
with fringes, hairslides, hair too soft to hold them,
two hundred words in their vocabulary
and shapes of sentences in which to mould them:
sentence shapes like cradles for dolls to dream in,
like railway tracks and bridges, tunnels, sidings,
paradigms for journeys, returns and crossings,
first languages, half-formed, dropped at a border
Dreamers crossed and were too young to remember –
these students, immigrants, these young men and women.
Mimi Khalvati was born in Iran and has lived mostly in England since she was sent to boarding school at the age of six. She has published eight poetry collections with Carcanet, including The Meanest Flower, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, and Child: New and Selected Poems, a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Her awards include a Cholmondeley Award, a major Arts Council of England award, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her poetry selections in this issue are from her forthcoming collection, Afterwardness, from Carcanet Press.