RANIA IS SYRIA
Hair black as night memory, our desks close - and distant only for a time, stuttered introductions led to laughter My home is Syria – it’s beautiful there. Studying long late nights in our Modernist malaise: Woolf and Lawrence intensity and challenge. We had deadlines to meet, conferences to prepare, the special mint tea ever there with her chat and questions. Do you love your home, Scotland? Syria comes alive when I think of Rania. Her descriptions draw me closer to the River Euphrates, Khan As’ad Pasha, the Umayyad Mosque – the oldest mercantile city of the world, Damascus. And the hazelnuts and pears, the shawarma and breads, olive trees and flowers amidst long hours of bells and busyness – the market crowded and crammed with everything that grows in her land of plenty. And a Syrian tapestry, your gift to me – silk to the touch and woven through with metallic thread, perfected technique of a celebrated ‘mill’ worker, Zok, the artisan Aleppo weaver. All this before the new war, before the interference, before the country needed new suspect ‘allies’ to depose Assad and his style of killing. Some it seemed were willing to worsen the civil upheaval, let violence and bloodshed bathe the streets as Obama looked on biding his time, but not long till the might of America rained down bombs and death on every town and city. The West celebrated the Arab Spring, now ten years gone, delighted in the spoils of turmoil they could feed on after half a million dead, fifty-five thousand children killed and over seven million fleeing their beloved Syria. And you, you had to leave – dear Rania. In Italy, you teach about Modernism that movement a transformative reaction to the waste of a European war. Modernism? progress, human evolution? You must weep. My desk is near and distant, I dream commune, hair black as night memory, a smile like light as we studied till two. One day through the dust storms of another decade, I will travel to you, Rania/Syria.
SPEAKIN WEIRD IN ABERDEEN
‘Speakin weird’, the perfect sound where boats bed into the streets. Tankers, trawlers, buses and prams throng the long and busy city of granite and grey. Into the hubbub of ‘Spin’ and song, poetry and performance, a long night of thinkin and drinkin, political talk with folk open and aiming to call it all out: misogyny, alignment and world leaders who cannot do a decent fuckin job. The night street later lit in green, university emerald spires sky blue Like weans, we point, all fun and futures – Wanderlust Women on the run. Heading for the bus on a sky-wide morning, and for the first time, longing to make a return, smiling as a boat comes up the road with buses and buildings in between, I’m sun-bright and weirdly vibrant, vivid in Aberdeen.
FILM NOIR AT KELVINGROVE
Janet got oot the Refuge and walked roon by the park, the moon was high to lit her wey – oot the daurk tae a safe hoose. Turnin a coarner, she saw polis, hoarses– like a film, that many lights, a motorcade. – A voice fae this toon What are ye daen and where ur ye gawn, a polis asked. Ahm tryin tae get tae that hoose there, I’ve goat an address. Yer no gawn doon that wey, absolutely nae chance. The park was cauld as she stood there, the ‘men’ o the world in Kelvingrove, she remembered a ‘Cops’ thing thit wis startin and snapped her coat roon tight shut. It was… a global gaitherin ae aw the ‘great and good’ an wan wummin, just wantin to feel safe in any fuckin hoose.
Linda Jackson is the founding editor of Seahorse Publications, (www.seahorsepublications.com), her own work includes The Siren Awakes (2020) and The Cabinet (poetry collection by Red Squirrel Press, 2021), she has been published in various anthologies, including New Writing Scotland. The second memoir, Siren: Wild in Me will be late this year as will her novel, The Mark of the Rose, she is currently working on a group of travel poems for a title Wanderlust Women, out in November 2021. An academic in a former life, her doctorate was a comparative study of Virginia Woolf and Friedrich Nietzsche. she has been a teacher and a writing tutor for forty years, a lifelong musician. www.lindajaxson.com
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RANIA IS SYRIA was first published by Seahorse Publications in the collection Wanderlust Women