After Belle Isle, 1949
A stinking summer in Beirut,
I am leaving for London soon.
By dusk, your Volkswagen finds itself
by the coastal hamlet & diamond water.
We don’t know who Philip Levine is yet
but we, too, are looking to baptize ourselves.
The garbage mountains not in sight when
your hands hold mine under the inky sea −
although if we inhale deeply, Karantina
isn’t too far.
I catch your face reflected in the disc moon,
your savannah eyes in the opaque water.
You open a palm to show me sunset in Athens,
where you first saw light.
We didn’t bring our towels, so I dance
to shake off the salt & your eyes do
their little crinkle.
I think it is the olive tree that whistles
when our post-shawarma bellies squeal
with the cold wind. A man in a white singlet
walks past with disapproving stares − how dare
we be in love in this forlorn world?
For the first time I refuse to care
the cities we occupy seem distant underneath
a sky scattered with dandelion seeds.
Nur Turkmani is a Lebanese-Syrian researcher and writer in Beirut. Her research looks at climate change, gender, social movements, and development in the Middle East. She is also Rusted Radishes' Webzine Managing Editor and currently studies creative writing at the University of Oxford. Her creative work has been published in London Poetry, Muzzle Magazine, The Adroit Journal, Discontent Magazine, and others.