We drink mint tea from our copper teapot and we remember
laughing in the sunshine with the pomegranate farmer’s unveiled daughters,
a ride to Homs with a Sunni Muslim who invites us to his home,
the heady scent of spices in the souk; perfect mounds of vibrant coloured treasures,
a grinning man selling flatbread from the saddle of his motorbike,
the feel of fine Persian carpets on bare feet in the holy silence of a mosque,
the dawn shadows cast by the pillars of Palmyra, and beneath,
the smiling curve of a camel’s footprint in the sand.
The market where we bought it is no more.
The workshop full of tools and dusty trinkets, empty now.
The sound of tiny copper beating hammers
silenced by the hammer blasts of war.
The old man we haggled with is dead.
We walked away, shaking our heads and
his boy followed, to lure us back for strong, sweet tea;
‘Come, come, drink tea, just tea!’ one palm upturned, one resting on his heart.
Now that boy would be a man, sending his own boy
to run smiling, beguiling, along the cobbled streets to make a sale.
But in Aleppo the streets, the boys, the smiles are gone.