Lemia Beyoumi is an Egyptian poet, born in Sollum, raised in Cairo and now living in Boston, MA. In addition to poetry, she is a visual artist, sculptor and painter. “Sollum” is an ode to the mystifying beauty of her native village.
You need not tell us of strife.
Its colors are in the winds, the sands that cuff the eye,
rest upon the brow and tint the skin
a maddening shade of red.
Are you baffled by the dress?
Wrapped around the waist and slung across the shoulder?
The elegant form of woman, scented with sandalwood oils,
thick braids donned with gold,
the dowry earrings that her husband sold
his soul to buy,
the anklet that her grandmother wore.
Here the Nile curving through the bed of the date palm
is elixir in weary veins.
Here the moon silver-plates the celestial canvas,
her streams of ivory falling upon adoring faces
until the song of the dawn
proclaims its charm.
Here, hunger itself is bittersweet
as the thirst of the Lotus that endures the desert
crowned with the thorns of its labor.
Here, the heat rests with us,
eats with us our sourdough,
drinks the salty waters of our skin.
Salam to a familiar sun
as dust rises to color my village
with its peculiar shade of tortured splendor.
Let the song of the straying goat
carol to this battered Eden—this stealer of hearts.
we will rest in the shade of the Nim trees
by the sway of the Jasmine bush
until the call from the minaret comes.
~Lemia Beyoumi, Cairo, Egypt