Poetry: Dear Nour

Danny Ramadan, MFA’20, is an award-winning novelist, speaker, and LGBTQ-refugee activist. His debut novel, The Clothesline Swing, won multiple awards, and he is also the author of the children’s book Salma the Syrian Chef. He talked about his experiences as a Syrian refugee in the popular TED talk The Refugee Tree: A Queer Journey from Syria to Canada.


Winter here is a freshly cleaned glass
building no one lives in and I wonder if you would     curse
the clouds the way you cursed me when your husband went to the sea.

There is no open fire in houses here unless it’s a decorative fireplace
on TV with a mysterious hand flipping burning woods      I stand by it
hands extending      it offers no warmth.

No one knows how to play backgammon and I haven’t
played since you and I last battled in the living room with heavy tea
and the dices twirled around like a dervish.

You slam the table with your hand
and the dices stop twirling they rested on two sixes you won that
round and made me Turkish coffee that healed my broken soul.

Your home tucked away in the old corners of Damascus
neighboured by abandoned wooden houses      waiting forgotten filled
With the dust of old souls abandoned waiting forgotten.

Your hair is waiving tales on your shoulders      freed
a nightly sky with a hidden moon    you wash it with olive oil
to keep it nourished and soft.

My hair is humid like a wet cloth. I can clean a
            kitchen floor with it. I can even clean the
salt and snow off my boots.

Every time I pack for a new place I remember you
            packing my bags
            begging me to stay.

I wanted to tell you that yesterday
I bought myself a bottle of olive oil      made in California
I called it home.