flavours my coffee as I wait
for my love to return.
Shattered by expression, emotion…
I cannot understand any of her words….
I wave to and greet Bashar’s portraits
on the road, especially near
guarded military bases that
set in wait for the next war.
Trees grow in front of the portraits,
concealing the faces of emergency.
(Damascus is surrounded by
fortified hills, building, preparing
for the ever-impending invasion).
He is waving back with
a funny, awkward smile.
The terrain is rough, dry,
with blooming orchards,
olive trees, grapes, and figs.
Half way between Aleppo
and Damascus, we stop at
a petrol station – immediately
a frenetic smiling man pulls
us out for tea and shisha.
He is watching ‘Neighbours’ with
Arabic subtitles, he asks
in a rhetorical way, ‘Isn’t it good?’
We drive past a new university,
dancing to Arabic music – it will
have its own shopping mall.
The cab driver sings to us, pointing
out the site of an Israeli bombing.
We pass by Damascus to the suburbs,
to Cora Assad, Assad Villages, where
my love’s parents await our arrival.
Damascus will have to wait.