Brief Dialogue Between the Self-declared East African Micronations of Regent Park Estate (Toronto) & Regent’s Park Estate (London)
by Momtaza Mehri
There is always someone to stay with.
Someone who will give up their bed,
the plushness of their comfort.
Neighbours bring pouchfuls of spices
back from the motherland. Sit without invitation.
Someone offers the heat of their body.
Willingly loses long hours to gossip.
Gossip slides down bannisters.
Legs to head. Haphazardly thrown slippers.
We lie in pairs like skinned kippers.
Against my back, your elbow is a fence.
Non sibi sed toti. Separation is distal.
Misplacement volleys between us.
Video chat. Background chatter.
All hundred, peeled eyes. Our block’s
windows blink like an advent calendar.
All-seeing Argus. Our bereft, blitzed tower.
Our cherished nook of experience.
Experience is straddled. Like our knees hugging
the cold frame of orange benches.
I crossed an ocean to meet you here,
in your other life, so faintly similar
to my own. A meniscus between decisions
we had no hand in. Choices determining
how far apart we sit today. Our likeness
is viscous, discreetly trapped in our saliva.
Over subway rattle, I can barely hear you conspire.
Conspire to survive their revitalisations.
Teenagers hotboxing in cars, trading
contraband dreams in different accents but
similar twangs, courtesy of Xamayca,
insolent island of outsized brilliance.
Past the school gates, the leisure centre,
the shelter for ‘Aboriginal’ men,
throughfares tingle with familiarity,
the same British names flinging
our lives into different orbits.
Orbit the hood’s circumference.
Your blood knows its way around.
Around us finance capital belches
its nuclear shrooms. Scattered ash over our heads.
How formless our dreams have become,
are becoming. Like steam rising
from a nearby church. An airless prayer.
© Momtaza Mehri, from Bad Disapora Poems (Penguin, 2023)
Momtaza Mehri is an award-winning poet and essayist. She is a former Young People's Poet Laureate for London and winner of the 2019 Manchester Writing Prize. Her writing has featured in the Guardian, POETRY, Granta, Wasafiri, Bidoun, the White Review and on BBC Radio 4. She works across criticism, translation, anti-disciplinary research practices, education and radio.