Sara Elkamel is a journalist and poet, living between Cairo, Egypt and New York City.
She holds an M.A. in arts and culture journalism from Columbia University. Her writing
has appeared in The Guardian, Guernica, The Huffington Post, The Common, Winter
Tangerine, Anomaly, and elsewhere.
Oud through Nejmah's door
Before I knock, I stand outside the door,
enamored by the sound,
You stare into your hands a little later,
and crouched, as if twisted
in some kind of prayer, you say:
Our life is lost.
They lost our life.
The sons of bitches have lost our life.
But then you hold me and all they can do
out there on the neon street, is watch.
When I wake up the bed is submerged in dates.
I cannot picture them ripening.
My ungodly hate for guavas
may have something to do with a particular tennis court
square in the heart of the Delta
when I was 13
the clay on my knees with blood
trees in the corner
dropping fruit after fruit after fruit
right as I lost
point after point after point.
I do not capture, on the audio recording titled
'oud through Nejmah's door' the line
that creates itself in your brow when you play,
the sheet of sweat that surrounds it, your
closed eyes, the long table
the long night
the short opening.
Imagine darkness without a god.
You tell me about the guilt that gathers in your bones
for not being able to hold in your hands:
for long enough.
Guavas make fridges smell like guavas
and fridges smell like women
so women smell like guavas
and guavas smell like women
and I hate the smell of women.
Every time I leave I imagine returning
and upon returning, finding the door to Cairo had vanished.
They have misplaced our lives.
I wake up again and the dates have disappeared. Is it possible
they have ripened overnight and once ripe, saw fit to leave on their own?
I have largely been able to avoid guavas in recent years.
I wish I were the kind of girl who could turn
these drops of rain to syrup to feed to you.
I think about smelling all the women,
to see if I can stomach it,
but it seems like a lot.
I have been here before, the dates think
as I wake up from another dream in which
I eat all of them before they ripen.
I am standing outside
Back to Front.