(Photograph by Sharanya)

Still Life

Nearly summer.
The Mediterranean
idly sieving its blues.
Bodies sprawl across sand.

The ‘deathless’ call it a crisis.
They walk around jetsam
priced on request in the catalogues.

In Lampedusa, the artefact
of the most recent shipwreck is
still too fungible.

Still not fine art.

After Tayeb Salih

Latitudes did not change longings.
The dissolution of your deficits
—still in bloom—was an early ultimatum
issued from another border.
But the places you sought did not dream you up the same.

Late spring: your neighbour’s roses climb giddy over the wall
in spite of either of you; recurves spitting crimson—
you are emboldened. But in this country,
you hand their roses back to them.
Pleasure left alone is always theft.
Thank you very much, they say.

Still, you came home longing.

One evening you run out of ways to hold a feral pause.
How not to say: I am no Othello, Othello was a lie.
How to say: no flag will save me.
Those we love we leave behind with roses.

Years later, not just in the fables,
summer damasks will carpet the wall;
chromatic deadheading without blood.
Neglect is how you kill a border.

Sharanya lives and writes in South East England.