in the Bustan al-Khass
on the East bank
of The Dijla (The Tigris),
to look like Hyde Park.
Watch us work, prosper, plod
tread the middle ground during
a two thousand six hundred year
sojourn with family, food, festivals.
then Gilit. You never learned
our languages after you arrived,
we wrote literatures preserved
for you now in different geographies.
Watch Britain’s renegade Grand Mufti
his Promised-Land apartheid, listen
to the whispers that the Fuhrer
was born in an Egyptian village.
and Syrian intellectuals-in-exile train soldiers,
police, militia-men and children, watch
nothing stop the Golden Square Generals,
even once their leaders temporal and spiritual
run away from the British, for whose oil-fuelled
infantry eight kilometers was further than the walk
from Ambassador Cornwallis’ dinner plate
to his card table.
who’ll later press his cheek and arms up
against a semi-cylindrical grave where
one hundred and eighty Farhud-dead are buried.
tremble as we asked “Mnein Jitem”
that Erev Pesach after the lawyer,
Rashid al-Gaylani’s coup turned
the hilleq bitter. Watch our hopes surge
when within the month he and the Grand Mufti
escape from the British to Iran, plummet
when Yunis al-Sab’awi declares
himself Governor General and orders us
penned in our homes, soar again when it’s he
who’s deported within the day. Hear us attest
our Tbit on the Shabbat which runs
into Tikkun Leyl, and hear Regent
Abd al-Illah’s due back the next day,
Sunday June 1st. Watch us cheer him home
on the first day of ‘Eid al Ziyarah.
on al-Khurr bridge, at al-Rusafa, Abu-Sifain
everywhere until 3 a.m. and silence. Watch
at 6 a.m. on the second day of Hag when
they start again. Not just the poor from al-Karkh
then load-up having cruelly sacked
our homes, shops, synagogues,
but from everywhere they yelp
Drilled by Salah al-Din as-Sabbagh,
or by centuries of knowing our place,
keeping the rules, paying the price
being no guarantee of protection.
into the undertow, no Moses survived.
cut their breasts, no Dina survived.
and tore. Dragged Jews from buses
which they used to run them over.
Every attack intended to humiliate.
uncountable, even once the Regent
called in the cut that felled
the saturnine mob. Where was natural,
civil, military, sharia law? The assumed
duty to dhimmi?
like Dr Sa’ib Shawkat, Dean
of Baghdad’s Medical College.
In the acts of landlords
who risked their lives to save those
whose houses the Hitler Youth-styled
Futuwwa had painted with red khamsas.
who caught children in blankets
when they were thrown to safety
and sheltered families who jumped
across flat roofs where Baghdad
used to spend its summer nights.
siraj (sesame oil) and threw it
from our shnashil (latticed balconies)
where women, unseen, had watched
their households’ comings and goings.
We used the bricks from our parapets,
we had no guns, few had iron fists.
remember with new knowledge
and their picnics of beith-bla’ham,
timman-ahmar, and kahi never go south
to al-Kifl for the pilgrimage, sing
Shirit Hagvarim at its seven
waystations, or hear the tomb
of Yehezkel cry for its Jews.