Things my grandmother doesn’t understand

She cannot pull history out of graveyards
and squeeze them into this century’s tiny house
this grey city she doesn’t recognise.

She could never count the days
so they run circles around her
the years tease her like a washing
machine tearing her old clothes to shreds.

All she can do is call out for her past but
the tombstones never tumble, never shake an inch.

We pass her to arrive
and she doesn’t understand how
we cycle through clothes so fast
cycle through years even

Can’t fathom how she drifted
so far from home in minutes

How her husband was aging with her over
breakfast and is dead by lunch
again and again

the way my mother took hours to produce
two daughters over the age of 18
who break into the house at dawn
instead of getting married

When she asks me where her husband is
she doesn’t meet my eyes
her hands quiver
as she floats through the rooms of her mind
and switches the lights on and off again

She doesn’t understand this dance
or who I am
I try to tell her who she is everyday
but her decades also pass right through me
refusing to be caught
and together it is as if we understand

— Liyana Dizzy, 22

Notes from the future: At about the 4 minute mark I read this at Farish Noor’s What Your Teacher Didn’t Tell You book launch, set to Alia playing the piano:

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