Ceanothus Pacific Blue
Some mornings I wake up mistaking wanting another world
with just wanting a fuck.
Inside the correction is a tender hand
resting on my forehead
not, in its pale heart, secretly wishing
for my hair to be smooth
so it can be put at an Easter table with the other eggs
in a convincing dress.
I do not resist it
but it will not do or undo
a civil war, demolition, my mother,
bile duct cancer, capital, rape,
dopamine imbalances, the suburbs or sickness.
It will not do or undo what was spat in my face
or what my face spat back.
The old journals record minor devastations
piled up into major ones
making up at least one tendon in one arm of the world’s architecture.
You should have seen me cockily
storm the ocean as if it were merely a lake
until the unlikeliest source said
(mixing drinks in Edenbridge Town)
‘you were fighting for yourself all along’.
All the he’s glint inside the left brain
tucked behind my ear to smoke later.
The shadow forming by the communal bins
is definitely not just a fox. Walk backwards into
tense and agile fingers would come towards me in the hallway
telling me what I was
under the Italianate roses
of an imagined and indefensible Europe
squatting with our goats at the passport office
you fuck – here’s my tax receipt, here’s me
snuffling for my chicken dinner.
Someone is always getting pushed down the stairs unevenly
here or in Worcester Park, there or in a Bangladeshi H&M factory,
the plughole of the Amathus Beach Hotel in Limassol
was always gurgling with blood.
I had rested inside my equation for a lifetime
yet whichever way I balanced it I was dead
and so were you and so were the cleaners at the Amathus Beach Hotel.
D reassured me about truth at the kitchen table
so I loosened my grip on knowing. Then
could I see that to align yourself or others entirely
with conditions and the symptoms of conditions
was the same as laying down at 40
still waiting to be tucked in
while the shadow comes from behind the ear
ready to work you dead and
you’re on the ground with your body –
everything smells metallic,
you turn your own mouth over in the dirt
where it’s always been
refusal is a kind of devotion.
Look I’ll still love you if you want to die
but meanwhile I can say to the ceanothus at least:
oh pacific blue,
can’t you see it is only the opposite
of really wanting to be alive.
Note: The phrase about Europe’s indefensibility comes from Aimé Césaire’s 1950 essay ‘Discourse on Colonialism’.
Mira Mattar writes fiction and poetry. She is an independent researcher, editor, and tutor. A Palestinian/Jordanian born in the suburbs of London, she continues to live and work there. Her first book, ‘Yes, I Am A Destroyer’ was recently published by Ma Bibliothèque. Her first chapbook, ‘Affiliation’, is forthcoming from Sad Press; and her first collection of poems will be published by The 87 Press.