Aya Telmissany

Grandpa lies

 in the emergency room.
       He is sliding
       on a rolling bed
       from one room 
       to the next.
       We follow him, 
       a broken up herd.
       He’s sleeping 
       with his mouth 
       slightly open
       and if it weren’t 
       for the white walls and acid smell
       I would think he’s just fallen 
       asleep watching Shadia 
       and Abdel Halim’s movie
       But Abdel Halim’s long gone
       And Shadia followed a few days ago.

Grandpa’s lying
        in the emergency room.
       He opens 
       his eyes 
       when I call 
       his name,
       then goes back to sleep. 
       For what seems like an hour,
       I stare at the paleness of his face
       barely visible on the white
       sanitized hospital sheets.
       I watch 
       the rise and fall 
       of his chest,
       a disappointing spectacle.
       I keep watching 
       his chest 
       like one does 
       when trying to catch 
       an actor breathing 
       while playing dead.

There is hardly any sign of life
       but the machines
       attached to him are beeping;
       it must mean that we are still 
       in the same room.

Grandpa’s lying 
        in the emergency room.
       And I’ve never seen my aunts 
       cry before.
       My grandma, I have
       but not tonight;
       she seems more 
       detached than grandpa is;
       and no amount of cliché 
       words of consolation
       can bring her back. 

Grandpa’s back
       From the emergency room.
       He’s fallen asleep
       in his new wheelchair
       watching Shadia
       and Abdel Halim’s movie

Grandpa’s out 
       of the emergency room.
       but I am still there.
       I always will be. 

Aya Telmissany is a 22-year-old student at The American University in Cairo. She is majoring in English and Comparative Literature and minoring in both Creative Writing and Arabic Literature. She won in the French international poetry contest “Poésie en Liberté” in 2014 and was also awarded the first prize in the Madalyn Lamont Award For Creative Writing in English by the Department of English and Comparative Literature at AUC in 2018 for a collection of ten short poems. She also writes and edits poetry for the Egyptian online magazine CairoContra