Return to Aleppo by Sheila Jacob

He hammers plastic sheets onto windowless frames.

She sweeps brick dust outside where bulldozers groan

through rubble and it circles back, she’s powder-faced,

swollen- mouthed, coughs stringy phlegm into a towel.

He smooths her hair, promises life will improve if they

pray, work hard, this is their home, their  jewelled city.

Their cold, leaking flat shovelled clear of broken glass.


He walks her to the Citadel, fingers a crumbled wall

and weeps. He’s a good man, doesn’t rage about losing

their son last year when a qunbula  dropped too close

and the child came too soon, slipped from her like a red

wax doll. She buries grief; humps water from street tanks,

scours markets for food while hollering lads chase empty

oil drums, wear striped woollen hats lettered CANADA.


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