Lord of a heaven far away from me there
near to me here
I pray to you there, pray to you here.
Five decades ago there
and eight years ago here
I chanted the same Azan
in my new-born baby’s right ear
and showered his cheeks with tears -
one stranger here comforts another.
Mother watches behind a curtain of tears and feels pity for us here
and an astonished midwife with an open mouth gasps:
What on earth are they doing here?
What is he mumbling in the baby’s ear?
dawn, noon, afternoon
sunset and night
each time I pray to the Lord who granted us love, grace and blessing
and poured the light and sap of life into our bodies.
I pray for tranquillity to overwhelm my soul
for the right guidance to flow over all the people in the world.
I pray for mercy to fill my heart
for happiness to rise from my eyes.
I returned to the neighbourhood mosque
and recognised some faces that bid farewell to me years ago
and my father’s wasn’t amongst them;
but a corner where he used to pray, perfumed with his breath,
I knelt down low and repeatedly pressed my forehead
on what fell from his spirit there
and offered him my tears
and recited the opening verse of the Holy Quran by his grave
for a long time.
I cried for him and also cried for my mourning soul.
in the mosques of the land of frost
I met people who came from all over the world.
Like a rug of a thousand colours
We’ve been unfolded behind the Imam,
a flower from each garden, each has their own tongue
But there is only one language for prayer.
Glorify, saying God is great
for the nation praying to the Lord
who sat on the throne of heaven there
and who sits on the throne of heaven here.
‘Prayer’ translated by Iyad Hayatleh with Tessa Ransford.
* * * * * *
The Three Crows
I could recall a nursery rhyme
for one of those,
but not for the three that swooped
between red sandstone tenements
Magpies are simple:
one for sorrow, two for joy
three for…a crow times three is
one for simply being
two for an accomplice, and
three for three’s a crowd.
But in that dip and dive
like the invisible curve of lives
that moves through time’s memory game,
comes a flash of colour:
the rainbow’s elusive sheen on feathers,
something to grasp
before the light changes.