EGYPT ON TELEVISION
We watch Egypt on television
just one country away.
Off the screen, down the side streets
behind closed windows and doors
many people wait.
The television tells them truth and lies.
They watch the footage shot on high:
Tops of men’s heads all look the same,
like lentils for sorting on a plate.
Where is my husband, my father, my son?
Girls and women wait.
Amina opens her math book, but dreams.
She will write a novel about these days.
There will be a tall, blond newsman,
British, French, perhaps a Dane.
The heroine, Amina, will save his life.
She will, of course, become his wife.
Young girls dream and wait.
Ali is five. His father says: No,
You can’t go to the square with me.
Ali pouts: But I am big. I’ll take a stick.
Dad insists: Big boys stay home.
They must take care of Mom and Sis.
Ali thinks: When I am six
I’ll make the revolution too.
Big boys hate to wait.
In a kitchen Bushra makes the tea.
A son – whose is he? –
climbs a tank, smiles his thanks
to someone’s brother,
the soldier who lends him a hand.
Under whose command?
Where does he stand?
People keep pouring down the streets.
We watch and wait.
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