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What It Was

By: Mimi Khalvati & Theresa Lola

About The Poem

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.

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