“Arabic Lessons” by Rebecca Ruth Gould

Arabic Lessons

Your glasses broke on your way 
to our first Arabic lesson

in Damascus. I found you wandering 
through al-Salhiyeh blind,

near Ibn al-Arabi’s tomb,
fording stones & broken glass,

looking for my door. 
I did not understand all your words,

but your favorite authors translated.
You liked novelists best.

You did not talk politics, except 
to tell me we were being watched

& to predict that revolution 
would bring no resolution.

At the first sign of violence, 
I escaped to Berlin.

I called you every night. 
Every night, the phone buzzed to silence. 

I hope your glasses protect your eyes 
from the war’s incessant glare.


RRG v woolfRebecca Ruth Gould is the author of the poetry collection Cityscapes (2019) and the award-winning monograph Writers & Rebels (2016). She has translated many books from Persian and Georgian, including After Tomorrow the Days Disappear (2016), The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and other Stories (2019), and High Tide of the Eyes (2019). A Pushcart Prize nominee, she was awarded the Creative Writing New Zealand Flash Fiction Competition prize in 2019.