What It Was
By: Mimi Khalvati & Theresa Lola
About The Poem
It was the hard drive humming. It was the neighbours
talking through walls in the stairwell. It was the playlist
we kept adding songs to so it would go on forever.
It was the snappy mouth of scissors asking why
you hadn’t touched them in so long as you trimmed
your mother’s hair. It was the wheezing in your own lungs
that kept you awake. It was the house talking to itself
in fits and starts, joints creaking with old age;
the crackling cheer from the pan when you flipped
eggs in a new way; the news repeating the same song
every day but hitting its drum kick louder each time.
It was silence at first then duff sounds like an orchestra
settling into chairs, reaching for their scores, followed
by coughs and more shuffling in the front stalls before
a larger silence descended like snow on the auditorium.
It was your doorbell growing into a horn, books
arriving like spare windows. It was a lighter flicking,
the short gasp of flame; the sudden braking at a corner;
hearing a passing woman talking loudly on her phone,
a snatch of Farsi, the rush of hunger to hear more.
It was the nosey beep of the scanner when you bought
pasta and sauce to cook for someone you loved;
the swing squeaking on its hinges back and forth,
back and forth like some mechanical songbird.
It was our breath hitting our masks like a catapulted wind,
wheels driving through rain but not the sound of rain.
It was Tom on piano playing neo-soul as we walked along,
the music floating out of his pocket; the long wail
of an ambulance hitting its big toe on a gate.
It was the robin’s little story throbbing in its throat,
the crows cawing in the cemetery. It was the only
two people on the plane clapping when it landed,
the tap of your legs against concrete as you ran
towards a row of possible answers. It was the sigh
of redemption. It was the silvery shiver of a tambourine
when the last church standing heard God’s whisper.Return To Map
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