He becomes my child
Don’t leave me he says. This father of mine.
This man-child. This disappearing man.
Sweeter. More vulnerable. We crowd around
his bed, me crouching, careful not to touch
his bad arm. I hold the spout of his cup
to his lips. Swallow Baba I say. Swallow,
as I press the soft place under his chin
that forces him to. I’m proud of myself
for this trick. He shan’t cheat us that easily.
We pass plates of kawage, kibbeh, moutabal
between us around the semi-circle of table.
His Arabs once again. Spooning thick soups
made from our meal into the droop of his mouth.
Swallow I say again, leaning into his good ear,
bringing my hand to his face in the hope
I can coax him into response. I can give him
the warmth of my skin to heat his own.
I can feed, water, love him enough.
Don’t leave me I say.
Sarah Terkaoui is of dual Middle East/ Irish heritage and lives in leafy SW London. She has been shortlisted for the Bridgeport Prize 2022, Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Award 2022 and commended for the Goldsmiths Poetry Festival 2022. She was commended in the Hippocrates Poetry Prize 2021 and longlisted for the Live Canon international poetry Prize 2021. Her work appears in both anthologies and Broken Sleep Books’ forthcoming Sex Tape Digest anthology. Her poems have also been published in Fragmented Voices, Ink Sweat & Tears, Imposter, Green Ink Poetry, Lucent Dreaming, Propel, The Storms, Visual Verse, Dreich and Wee Dreich. Most recently she appeared as part of the Live Canon Lunchtime Readings series and the Poets for the Ukraine poem-a-thon fundraiser. She is currently studying for an MA in Writing Poetry (Newcastle University/ Poetry School London) and is working on her first collection.