The Damascus Room
The room is an object in its entirety.
Singular in form and mind,
and multiple in purpose and pleasure.
It is a secret capsule.
Though it was once adorned with bright reds and greens and plated golds
that climbed up the walls like vines of calligraphy clambering towards colored swatches of sunlight,
they have aged into a state of refined and quiet dignity.
It’s not so much nostalgic as it is displaced,
eternally collapsing and rebuilding itself in city after city
and still patiently holding in the last breath it took from Damascus,
unable to answer the whispering calls of the fountain’s upturned ghosts,
as it desperately tries to remain in context with its lost world.
Crushed by the insurmountable weight of being the focal point of its own outlying universe,
the room asserts itself and its occupants as direct descendants of Muhammad himself.
Now barred and sick with musty browns it waits
for the call to be whatever is required of it
and its ability to expand itself as far as the heavens may reach or condense to hide itself and its occupant away,
so the festivities and conversation may linger a hint longer
and hang suspended in the ether that surrounds its now empty plot and new resting space.
Exuding its familiar warmth in the midst of eternal Middle Eastern winter,
comforted by southern exposure and vibrating,
beckoning the senses to become hyper aware
of the plush velvet cushion, red to the touch,
the incense burning, mingled with the smells of succulent meats and mystical fruits,
and the sensation of water dripping,
dripping as it sounds throughout the room
filling it up to the brim of the ceiling and overflowing over outstretched hands,
pouring over bared feet, and running dry as it slips over tile.
A dream of laughter wafts through the ebbing music,
Words feed the fountain and circle up into the walls,
and embed themselves there to rest in the cabinets and books that adorn them.
A facilitator of echoes, even in its own time,
a reflection on the lineage of light and thunder.
And as it streams in from the courtyard I remember it there,
warm and radiant behind the panels.
The summer courtyard waits,
and we can only peek in through an invisible barricade.
I am the ghost, looking in from what was once a wall
and trying to meet the space half way.
But I cannot be entertained and it cannot hold me.
Although it yearns to forget its promise,
and it longs to remember the delights of conversation,
I admit I know nothing of these lives,
these stories and doctrines shared and laughed over while pressing back against towering script, claiming its place in the heavens.
Who am I to assume.
And yet, its old bones have been propped in place by tourniquets and carefully bandaged by modern prosthetic wood and tile,
masked so casually and yet they lay in their places like lovely debris.
The flashes of memory don’t quite reach inside the way they want to,
Can’t quite be made whole and comforted by crawling inside and curling up.
Looking up at the decorated patterns of flowers and fruit and invisible stars,
we are both reduced to what is at the base of all desire.
It wants to go home.
Copyright © Rachel Temkin