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Retreat

/ Reem Hazboun ​Taşyakan (Writer), Allison Gable (Illustrator)

Poetry — 2 min reading time

No. 4


Riding in
silence
my thoughts
settle on something
sweeter. Silhouettes
of rising pines, fragrant
Phoenician cedars
sensed with
tightened breath
and strained glances.

a

Reaching the
coastal city
once enriched
by foreign-bound timber
and Tyrian purple.
Its jacaranda-lined
streets and sunlit
stone buildings
offer retreat
from our lives
in Damascus.

Walking along
the shore, we see
soothsayers and
henna hawkers and
a pelican
chained
to a tree stump.
Clipped wings
flap as you
drop coins
in the dish
beside it.

a

Breathing in
salty air
at a café
on a cliff,
casual
conversation
eludes us.
All
words
spoken
are sharp.

Looking
over
the edge
into
distant waves
you say:
Days like this
end, so let’s
keep things light.

Bargaining with locals
for selected souvenirs,
peeling clementines
with fingernails in
narrow alleyways,
juice dripping, us
laughing at the lack of
street names, wandering,
wondering how
we got lost.

a

Avoiding the topic
of marriage plans
because we’re
keeping things light—
and it’s to keep
us going,
as the day’s
sun
loses
intensity.

Arriving at the
ruins of Ugarit,
we read
time-worn descriptions
of age-old inscriptions,
climbing up hills
along crumbling walls
that formerly
formed dwellings.

We stop.

And I reach for you.

But you refuse me

since we’re

out in the open—

but no one
is around
for kilometers
and still
I can’t get you
to get close to me
despite the trees and waters
and sacred lands laden with
art and artifacts and
temples and tombs and
ghosts
on ships
of sailors
who wrote
letters to lovers
in ancient alphabets.

a

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