’Our cries, she used to say…’
Our cries, she used to say would scratch the moon’s windowpanes and scrape the corners of tombstones which milked the moon My mother set the long slope of her back against us to interrogate the walls’ dampness decipher saltpeter’s crumbling alphabet translate the symbols carved on the underside of the city which she only knew in profile since she never ventured farther than her shopping bag rarely crossing the uncertain borders of her lamp City which sent us its rejected rains and sometimes a wheezy snow which hooked its flakes into the pomegranate-tree’s ears The planet must be cleaned up God must be cleaned up! My mother cried, tying her apron.
Vénus Khoury-Ghata was born in the Lebanese mountain village of Bsherr. Her awards include the Apollinaire Prize, the Mallarmé Prize, Grand Prix de la Société des gens de lettres, the Jules Supervielle Prize, Prize Baie des anges and the Goncourt Prize for Poetry (and Miss Beirut 1959). She has lived in Paris since 1972, and in addition to her poetry has published several novels.Read more about this poet
About this poem
This poem, representing Lebanon, is part of The Written World – our collaboration with BBC radio to broadcast a poem from every single nation competing in London 2012.