ON THE HIGHWAY [TO THE TUNE OF SOLO (REPRISE)]
In a grey Nissan cruising along a dark road in New Cairo, off التسعين, Ali tells me: you have no reason to be afraid of driving, and I think about the sweat I’m staining into his passenger seat. I know he’d be fine if I ask his permission to smoke a cigarette in his car, but it’s too cold outside and I don’t want to roll down the window. He says: you can’t live here without a car. I say: Gedo is 70 and hasn’t touched a wheel in over 40 years. I feel for you. But let me tell you a story: I have this friend who once hit and killed a man who was running, trying to cross طريق المطار in the dark. This was two years, ago, but she still can’t drive, says she is too traumatized, but how can you blame her? Knowing you have the power to just take a life like that. Still, Ali asks why was this man running along so late in the night, on such a dark road. I mean, it’s not his fault, البقاء لله, I don’t want to desecrate a memory, let the deceased rest. But still, it’s not her fault, you know? So low no more high horses. We rush past the uncoordinated mini mansions still being built. The few finished ones have erect streetlights in front of them, every other pole droops, unlit. I forget if the car was actually a Nissan or a Subaru, but I remember us fumbling through the side roads until we saw other headlights cutting through the darkness. I remember following them until we found the right exit into الرحاب and back to my house.
Hazem Fahmy is a poet and critic from Cairo. He is an Honors graduate of Wesleyan University’s College of Letters where he studied literature, philosophy, history and film. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming in Apogee, HEArt, Mizna, and The Offing. His performances have been featured on Button Poetry and Write About Now. His debut chapbook, Red//Jild//Prayer, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press this Fall. He is a poetry editor for Voicemail Poems and a contributing writer to Film Inquiry. In his spare time, Hazem writes about the Middle East and tries to come up with creative ways to mock Classicism. He makes videos occasionally.