this Land Belongs
Mra’ja the history teacher had spent the night lying awake, worrying. At the first show of light, he was loathe to start the day. He let the seconds slip by while restless time passed on, like sand through a bottomless hourglass. He felt himself suspended in the emptied globe. He let the day begin without him.
Gradually, the spirit moved him to rise and open a window. Peering out, he found the sky was steely grey. A voluminous, grey cloud was becalmed in the absence of a wind. It hung like a submarine above the white buildings of Derna. The air was cool on his warm skin. He shivered. Dogs barked in the hills – exclamation marks that punctured his thoughts. Cockerels crowed as they had all night in random fashion, a chaotic rendering of useless assertiveness, now in the East, then over there in the West, next in nearby streets in the suburbs south. A ship in the harbour blasted its horn, a rude interruption. The song thrush, a recent arrival in the orchard, was silent, or else flown. Some things were as before. But the arrival and possible departure of the thrush spoke of seasons changing. In his imagination, he willed the song into being, not blended like the blackbird’s, but intermittent with pauses and repeats.
Then panic fell upon him.