By Eiman Abbas El-Nour
My niece’s wedding was supposed to take place today. My daughter’s final exams were scheduled for tomorrow morning; she and her cousin were preparing their bridesmaids’ outfits and carefully planning the time they would spend at the party in order not to interfere with their final revision.
I had everything planned, thought about everything except what has actually taken place.
Our beloved homeland is burning!
Behind this nightmare is a long political farce.
The family is now scattered all over the world. Stories of harrowing ordeals at the border crossing, loss of worldly possessions, and an unimaginable degree of stress and fear.
And we are constantly reminded that we are among the lucky ones!
Though safely distant from the fray, perpetually tied to our phones, grasping for any scrap of news from home; from our loved ones on scrambled lines with poor reception.
Two Gazelles from Home
You dance inside my glass mug
Turning the water crimson
I inhale your vapour and taste home
I tell my stories to the date palms
I write my songs to the sun
Hiding in your water
White, Blue, and hot orange
A carnival of harmony
I cross the bridge on foot
And walk through the marketplace
The place and space is mine
Since my first breath of life
I greet everyone by name
Wave to our old neighbour
On his deck chair
Guided by the aroma
Of the fenugreek pudding on the stove
I reach my port of call
When I can’t see your beaming face on the horizon
How can I mend my soul?
What should a girl do
When she cannot swim
And the bridge is blocked?
When the confluence is a memory
How can I find my compass?
Farewell to Everything Green
I stretch my hand to reach you
I feel you near
I smell your sweetness
My heartbeats are painfully racing
Is it because my brain is running?
Ah! How cruel are the moments
When they are filled with thorns
My roses are dead
My gardenia breathed its last kiss in the air
And succumbed to its fate
Even the resilient cactus
Scared to live alone in the vast emptiness
I am trying to talk to you like I used to
When the evening creeps in with a smile
When I couldn’t tell from your giggly eyes
If you needed a drink
Do you hear me now?
Or the sounds of war have
Deafened you forever
Maybe if I read my calming verse
And curse the devil
A thousand times
I open my eyes
To find all this the union of all my nightmares
 Referring to a popular Sudanese tea brand (Al-Gazaltain Tea / شاي الغزالتين)
Eiman El-Nour is Associate Professor in English Literature at Neelain University and Ahfad University. She is also Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. She specialises in teaching African Literature and her main research themes include African women’s writing, Sudanese literature and Sudanese orality.
These are so wonderful and heart-wrenching. I wonder if you might consider giving me permission to reproduce your article, including the poems, in my blog https://womensliteracysudan.blog/ this month? Please see https://womensliteracysudan.blog/2023/04/21/messages-from-khartoum-and-london/
We have passed on your request to Eiman. Very best, M.
A touching engagement of another hardship hitting the Arab world! I just want to suggest replacing “Ode” with “Elegy” in the title.
She says that anyone who wishes to republish may do so.
That’s so kind! I will of course provide all links to your brilliant site – I learn so much from it! I cannot tell you how much the tragic events unfolding in Sudan have affected our colleagues and friends. We can only hope for peace. The Sudanese are such kind, generous and wonderful people.
The two poems are quite touching.
🥺 You feel it near u said
Cause it lives in ur heart n head
Memories of where u were born n bread
An ache for a home that will never end
For, of living in it it lives in U instead
🥺 So sad what is happening my heart is breaking for SuDaN… these poems resonate so much with my memories of how it used to be 😔
These are so moving and well-written. Thank you so much for sharing ❤️
These are beautiful and heartbreaking. Can feel your pain in your words ❤️❤️❤️
So beautiful so moving and well written Allahumma barik 💖💖💖
May Allah save and protect my beloved bleeding country SUDAN 😢
Thank you for sharing. Beautiful and heartbreaking in equal measures ♥️