Poem of the Week

On the Train from Cairo to Alexandria

Nadra Mabrouk

The moon is bland as bone this early.
The flag is hanging from every lamppost:
Long Live. Live Long. Live.
Departure hangs a body of fog over the taxi.
The driver says he’s never dreamed of leaving,
but he’s memorized the route. He’s made it
so often, this leaving without having gone.
The station buzzes with fractures. On the train,
damp years fold behind like ancient receipts, half-forgotten.
I think of more damaging synonyms for brief.
A man two rows over bends in prayer, closes his eyes,
sees glass. The worker keeps mopping the bathrooms,
the smell of gasoline drags through the car.
What do you do with a body at this thread of an hour.
Farmlands stretch beyond. A signal warning.
People hauling their bags over tracks, running
to make it elsewhere.

Nadra Mabrouk is a recipient of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and author of Measurement of Holy, published as part of New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Saba) through Akashic Books and African Poetry Book Fund.
Originally published:
March 16, 2022


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