The books on the riverbed

by Charlie Baylis


Remember, Gizem
Now we scarcely speak
How sweetly you sweetened my mind

In pastels and pyjamas
On toiles of Delft blue
In an unsure smile, with a shriek

Gizem, I bet you never knew
When you told me the mystery
Of your name, it was one I’d resolved
With a search engine as interpreter

Or the time I dreamt of your birth. It was 1989
In a silly pink hospital, Rotterdam central
When the Eastern walls were tumbling
And stars fluttered from the mane of a lion
Into the mouths of your mother and father

What monsters hid in the Kurdish diaspora?
Were there young brides lacing shoelaces?
Were papa’s books fading on the river bed?
Were there cucumbers in the cucumber fields?
And whose hand rested the running guns?

The little we know of the light of the moon,
The little you know of the colour in my eyes,
And who told you that the war of the roses,
Died on beaches strung with broken dreams

When in white along the aisle, remember
Where waves roll around the windmills
In patterns of five, in patterns of ten
he temple hung with acorns, remember
With what remains of our madness
For every lost battle, for every lost war
Remember to remember me, Gizem

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