Not twenty feet from the table
where I’m seated, a large
red stone deflects the ceiling lights
against the adjacent wall; it rests
majestically on your second finger,
like the veil over your head.
I watch your mannerisms,
the way you pick at the food
on your plate, I conjecture,
querying the waiter about its hygiene –
you smell your morsels before
biting into them.
Not too long of eight years ago,
I look back into my days
from where I hailed – from where
you currently call yourself
a visitor; I flashed similar
exquisiteness of kohl-lined eyes,
my demeanour resplendent with artifice
stones purchased from souks;
eyed people, food, hygiene
with the identical smirk
on your desert-ochred face. The length
of your skin, from where it is visible,
releases mystery and scents of
camouflaged truths of the locals
of the country you now claim
as your background.
From your glazed eyes
to your curved nose
and rose-glossed lips,
my eyes rest upon the stone
on your finger – its sporadic
deflections against your face
with the movement of your hands
as you talk – I look down at mine,
having borne the quirks of a city
stripping me of my veil(s). The veins have
mound and embossed unfavourably
to my mysteries.
The gold you wear is a flawless
translucence, exhaling an alchemized
beauty, draped like curtains
in casually guarded shops
like the ease of obliviousness
spread across your cheek as rouge.
The desert sun never scorched my feet
as much as your designer shoes do;
you are embellished in memories of a mask
I wore – and lost – and now you
project through a practiced lilt
typical of (my) Middle East.
I eat the food at my table,
coaxing myself an accomplishment
for wearing down the glamour
but knowing I stand at
an irretraceable crossroad –
having lost both face and mask.