An eleven-year-old boy from Aleppo
whose eyes hold only things no longer there
– a citadel, a moat, safe rooms of shadow,
‘afterwardness’ in his thousand yard stare –
years later, decades even, might turn around
to see, through the long tunnel of that gaze,
a yard, a pond and pine trees that surround,
as in a chaharbagh, four branching pathways.
Where do memories hide? the pine trees sing.
In language of course, the four pathways reply.
What if the words be lost? the pine trees sigh.
Lost, the echo comes, lost like me in air.
Then sing, the pathways answer, sigh and sing
for the echo, for nothing, no one, nowhere.
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.