Sharing Spaces

Sharing spaces is healing

I’m on a train where I have to share space. It’s less tricky than sharing an elevator, your country or a religion. Here I don’t have to avoid people’s bodies, defend anything, be responsible for others’ actions, or beg for acceptance.

Sharing train space has rules that are based on more than the geography of the space; it’s underpinned by culture, economics and psychology. But that is for another time.

I enter the train and stories start to float around, some endlessly, others rest on my keyboard.
Here stories start by ignoring each other and end up being my play mates. On every train journey I pick up something: a face, a word, a wisdom, or sadness. With every journey, I change.

I threw myself on the seat. It was a long breathless day that ran away with my breaths, piercing like a brand new nail.
It was a goodbye. Goodbyes. Why do they call them “good”?
Can anyone tell me?!
I’d name them cruel-bye, or why-did-you-come-to-say-goodbye-goodbye.

That day I entered the train but met no stories. Only her face was visible, beseeching me not to cry. “So what, mama.”
“It will all be ok, mama.” ” Nothing matters, mama.”

I sat and looked at the comfortable shoes I knowingly wore that morning. They tried but they could not comfort me. It was hot, boiling hot and angry and as sticky as their flashing words, as my flushes as my flesh touching flesh.

I washed away my presence and replaced it with a dream. Then took off my shoes under the table.
My foot relaxed and started to stroke the brown leather. My toes loved the expensive softness.

“Blows and strokes; that’s what life is made of,” I think.
“That’s how we cope.”

He was sitting in front of me, that stranger, and I felt his gaze. His kind teasing smile held my eyes. He raised his eyebrows and gently said , “I was enjoying that, but I can’t let you continue.”

I laughed with embarrassment, and stopped. I was stroking his foot instead of mine. I apologied a million times to him, and to my toes.

“That’s how we cope,” I think. A tear rests on our cheek and asks a smile out for a date to continue the journey together.

Wait, a woman has just thrown herself on the seat next to me.
I wonder why she looks so distraught …

Sharing a space is healing.


Man Met Life before Calling it His

Man met life before
calling it

Man met feelings before
meeting words
We contain word
Words do not contain us
detain us, restrain us

Words are our servants;
not our jailers
not our torturers

Intimidate words
Inject some of your life in them

Feelings came before names
Actions came before names

Man met life before
retraining it

Man met life before

calling it his


Chased by Two Syllables

A WAM : A woman  in a box of two syllables

She’s mare that’s too dark, too fat
their cant of this and that
chained to two syllables


She can’t, she’s chained to two syllables
Can you smell hell on this breath, mixed with heaps of onion
sand storms, heat, sweat
She’s chained to two syllables


They’re all fretting, anxious
galloping the course, mares alongside
stallions chased by two syllables


She’s a WAM, a woman, Arab and a Muslim

in a box of two syllables




Do you think that colour
is just for the ink I use
to sketch

that colour is just on their hands, in the tape
in the lines
they drew

There’s colour in the air
between the sighs that hide
colour in the floating seeds
colour in the need of a solid ground
to sow



those curving lines
those question marks
hooking your heart


a Selfie

You dared me for a selfie
You wanted to look
You wanted to see how real
are my lilies, my pearls and the valleys
how real is my green
how deep are my sorrows
why throbbing yet clean

Here’s my closeup
with daring I took
so shape with my shadows
My meadows are steep
My fairies are scary
My water is sharp
I dare you
come closer
I dare you to stare