‘The songs’ by Choman Hardi

The songs

These are the songs which were played
in the background of our days
in the taxis and shops
in every house we set foot in.

These are the songs
that suddenly disappeared from our lives
or we disappeared from them
when we left our homeland behind.

We carried them in our memories
and sang them on family occasions
to remember our innocence,
those days when things were beginning
when we were full of timid dreams
when we were in love, passionately in love
but didn’t know with whom.

15 years later I go to a music shop in my hometown
searching for what displacement once took from me.
The shopkeeper smiles,
‘They’re old songs,’ he says,
not knowing how for me they never grew old.
I wasn’t there when the process took place.

I listen to them in my room in Britain
and remember that spring when they were first played.
I remember being fourteen years old.
At that age I knew what it meant
for a brother to survive the other’s hanging.

My husband says: they are nice songs.
He says he likes listening to them.
(from Life for Us, Bloodaxe 2004)
Choman Hardi‘s most recent collection is Considering the Women, (Bloodaxe, 2015) which was shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize for Best Collection. Choman Hardi has read her work at many festivals, including Winchester Poetry Festival in 2016.