I ask How are things in Damascus and you smile and say Fine and tell me news of your brother and sister and
it’s the same news you told me last week.
I ask if they’re safe and
you say they’re safe and
I have the feeling if I asked whether they saw ‘Love Island’ last night you’d probably say yes, they did, thank you for asking.
I don’t ask how things are in Damascus and you smile a Do you want to play FIFA? smile and
I beat you 3-0, again
and you beat me 5-1, again
and we go for a walk and talk about work and I get the feeling I know you a bit.
I ask How are things back home and you say Not good. There’s another curfew. It’s been three days. You’re worried about food running out. There are twelve people in your parents’ flat now and your father refuses to leave the country. Your uncle was picked up by the police last month and hasn’t been the same since. Says he’s going to get in a boat. Your sister was screaming on the phone.
We cry together. We pray together.
You ask me how my parents are doing and I say Fine and
it’s the same news I told you last week.
You have the feeling if you’d asked me whether they enjoyed a big long shisha session last night I’d probably say yeah mate, they did, thanks for asking.
It’s Saturday again. I ask how things are with you and you tell me that you feel guilty sometimes, that you feel guilty when you turn on the light or sit down for food.
I tell you what that sounds like
like the only thing that’s right is the bombings and everything else is a sin.
You ask me how things are with my family.
I say not bad, not bad. Dad’s got a new car. I’m worried about the dog. Interview next week, bit nervous I won’t get it.
You say you know how that feels and
ask if I want to talk and I have the feeling that you mean it.*
David Forrest is a Scottish writer and spoken word artist based in Glasgow. His work focuses on love, justice and spirituality. David's first collection, From Glasgow to Damascus (Palewell Press) is available now. For more information please see http://www.facebook.com/davidforrestwriter
*This poem was originally published in "From Glasgow to Damascus" (Palewell Press)