‘Syrian boy of ambiguous sexuality’

I met Mahmoud through my uncle
my uncle found Mahmoud
on the internet
somewhere like that

Mahmoud joined us for dinner
there was a terrace
a 360 view
of old istanbul

I remember
the soft underbellies
of seagulls
singed orange
by city lights
and I remember
the sounds of boats
sloshing drunk
under Galata bridge

Mahmoud was slow to order
in the end he didn’t
instead he told me
of his journey
from Syria
to Turkey

he told me of his family
of his friends
and of the snaggled
bullet studded
that had swallowed his home

his home where friends lay buried
his home where mother worried

as he spoke
I could not take
my eyes
from his
as he spoke
they filled with tears
and in those deep green wells
I saw his city
how he remembered it:

flower beds
warm pavements
a small boy
on roller blades

Mahmoud told me
of his life in Istanbul
‘they treat us worse than animals’
he said
‘and if not, it’s because they want
my cock’

we stared at each other for a long time
my heart fluttered
I felt his do the same
under the palm
of my hand

there was nothing
to be said

and in his shimmering eyes
I saw the orange gulls

Ivana Popov
April 2016



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