Poem: Absence of Her

[Image Description: Multimedia artwork with the text of the poem and the title in collaged letters]

Art and Poem by Maryam Alatmane

Absence of Her

Missing a place is a strange thing. A siren call drags me back to the depths every time, through the veins of a sleepy seaside town. In my dreams, it is the same place I left; same chipped tile by the front door, same stray cat prowling, same dent where a football was kicked at the wall. I swipe nostalgia with a brush and paint memories on a cluttered canvas. What do you do when there is no more space for recollections? When I go back, I will have to scatter the past like ashes into the ocean. Rediscover the place I miss and find that it no longer exists. Mourning for past monuments is an art I have not yet perfected. Then and now. Mutually exclusive. Emptiness fills my bones. I know the only remedy is feeling saltwater stream past my face and praying under starlight. I fear I may live with nostalgia for a while yet. I am 2000 miles away but there is a solar system between us. My mother tongue is deserting me, I have forgotten what the ground of home feels like beneath bare feet. Absence knocks on my door and refuses to leave. Baladi, baladi, baladi. * An amulet to keep the hurt away, my motherland is begging for my return. Her pleas fall on deaf ears. Missing a place is a strange thing. We are stuck wishing for yesterday until the sun sinks again.

*Baladi = my homeland/ country (in Arabic)

Maryam Alatmane is a North African writer living in Birmingham, UK. Although she predominantly writes poetry, she also enjoys writing short prose. Her work explores themes of home, loss and childhood, amongst other things. When not filling her art journal with half-formed poems, Maryam can be found in a cosy corner with a good book.