Passage to Exile

This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Al Haidari

at the grave of Buland al-Haidari
Highgate Cemetery, London

We are used to blurriness here
in the temperate regions.
When the air is too clear, I walk like a drunk,
hesitating & veering around sharp-edged shadows
that come alive when they move.
Too bald a truth appalls us.
I can’t remember the last time I spoke
unironically of love. It’s best to be circumspect.
We are used to being watched by paraplegic angels
over closed-circuit TV.
Our children play hangman with blackboard and chalk.
Listen, if we hate poets here, it’s only because
they brandish empty wash tubs instead of roses
& remind us we’re all in exile from our dreams.