Every night that summer
when we went to bed on the flat roof,
I stayed awake
watching the opposite roof
where he was,
a tiny light turning on
every time he puffed his cigarette.
Once I was shown his paintings
and I went home
and wrote his name all over my books.
I kept imagining what he would say
how he would respond.
I imagined being married to him,
looking after him when he fell ill,
cooking for him, washing his hair.
I imagined sleeping on the same roof.
A whole year went by and we never talked
then suddenly an empty house opposite us,
an empty roof, not staring back
and sleepless nights for me.
Years later we met again
the same man with a few fingers missing,
bad tempered, not able to paint.
We never spoke
we remained on our separate roofs.
from Life for Us (Bloodaxe, 2004), © Choman Hardi 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher.