Rayya Ghul – Making History

Making History

 

On the tube to Golders Green,

an Anti-Nazi League badge

on my baggy jumper,

you sat reading Gay News.

The Telegraph reader muttered

‘queer’ and you just looked up

and said ‘Yid’ and stared, no one

dared say another word.

1979, Jeff ‘Bunny’ Dudgeon came

to stay. Lawyers crammed round

the kitchen table while Greta, 92,

our Jewish landlady, stood

on her doorstep shouting at Zionists,

her accent thick with German.

“Get off my doorstep you filthy Fascists!”

and I made endless cups of tea.

Meanwhile on TV Paisley ranted

and raved, “Save Ulster from sodomy!

We’ll have no poofters here!” Too

late, the tide had turned. Another year,

and in a court at Strasbourg

the British government lost, we won.

 

 

Rayya Ghul lives and works in East Kent.  She performs poetry in Folkestone with a group of poets called the Fabulous Females

 

RayyaGhul – What I have learned about home…

What I have learned about home from my Palestinian father and Silesian mother

 

i

Children run, hair streaming
in Opa’s orchard.  The golden
wheat waves undulate gently
in nearby fields
Father plays duets
with his daughter on the
family piano and together
they sing Heimatlieder

Yuletide curtains are hung,
the smell of Pfefferkuchen permeates
while red-cheeked children queue
for a lucky scale from the Christmas carp
Later they lie awake
waiting for the Christ Child
to come, bearing gifts

ii

Brown, dusty boys splash
in Siloam’s pool, cooling
from the midday sun
in the shadow of Jerusalem

White-scarfed women squat
round a hot metal dome, laughing
clapping bread into being
as wide as your arm
as thin as skin, flung on, over and off
Chicken is seasoned with sumac
and onions and wrapped in the bread

iii

A young woman is woken from her bed
made to walk in cardboard-soled
boots till her feet bleed, carried
on to the train to the West, only
stopping to watch Dresden burn

A family returns to find nothing
recognisable in the rubble and dust
save for the metal heart
and bones of the piano

iv

A young man looks forward to
returning home after studying abroad
to the taste of his mother’s M’sakhan
and finds his country no longer exists.

Instead of grazing for goats
there are fields of tents
inside which people hold hope
locked in house keys

v

Where the exchange of memories
is more important
than the exchange of gifts

Where the relationships between people
are more important
than the buildings that house them

vi

It’s in the gold bangles on my
grandmother’s wrist
in the topaz ring sewn into
the collar of my grandfather’s coat
in the house named after a village
my father cannot return to
where my grandfather’s pruning knife
is now a treasure in a cutlery drawer

In your mind, where no one
can invade, occupy or steal
what you know.

 

Rayya Ghul lives and works in East Kent. She performs poetry in Folkestone with a group of poets called the Fabulous Females