Forgetting July


                Q. What to expect when you're not expecting?
                A. A mad desire to pull the brakes on time and change things.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone

What will follow is the maddening rush of thoughts and memories – like you can't stop the tap from running: what I should’ve done, what I didn't do.

I don't know how the hours passed – I can almost hear the clock over the TV going berserk in agony, and you pleading, no let this be 20 years from now, let it never come. Give me some time.

The telephone was off.

Prevent the dog from barking with the juicy bone.

 Does Yoshi know? Did he lose weight because the visits stopped? I wonder sometimes if he had barked at the sudden restlessness beneath him, whether anyone heard him moan.

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Always at dawn. It always comes.

Sometimes a little after dawn, a few times during the middle of the night, I can hear it again.

The pain begins small at where I think my heart is and then I wake up.

Your smell is attached to my nose by some miracle of time.

Your smell never changes; it is always the soft and rough mix of all the scents you use and your stubbornness.

It is the few times when your voice changes that I feel my chest cracking open in worry. No, not your voice, not the stone I lean on.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

I never saw the beginning so I could never sit and anticipate the end. I couldn't hug you. I had nothing to say. There was nothing I could give that would have made a second of your day bearable.

My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

It was in Ibrahim's room, after the funeral, when I felt so detached wearing your PJ pants that I love. You against the window, blowing the smoke from the slender slims and the humidity outside stifling the trees.
With every breath you were working on your composure. You had mastered it by the end of the night. But I know you too well to see through your solid mask of handling it all.

I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

I was wrong. So are you.
I never thought you would cry.

You've tried so hard to keep him away during those endless hours – to keep him as far away as possible hidden under all the things we said, beneath conversations. I thought you would not crumble.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one

In the dark of his room. At the foot of his bed. On the floor he walked on barefoot. His soles treading. You sat.

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.

I hate saying this to you but you are wrong.


Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;

Things haven't changed. Not all the way.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

The clock is breathing normally on a Friday morning in July. The kitchen is bustling with voices of those who woke up earlier than the rest. Hamza's stories about dinosaurs fill my morning with green. He is here.

Ibrahim's voice.

Iten's calm.

Dahlia's eyes.


I was wrong – you who would not admit this so easily.

You who slept beside her where he lay. You are the living breath of what is most precious. You carry it in the arc of your brow and the brown of your eyes, the hair strewn on his pillow: you carry the woman he spent his days loving.

You carry his most precious memories without even knowing what they are.

*The lines in Italics are from W.H. Auden's poem Funeral Bells"


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