Aerial Calculations

For Imad Buali

Born in the Middle East, but having lived most of
his life in the West, he tells me that he’s decided –
inserting a DVD of his last trip to Saudi Arabia –
to move back there for good. The screen warms
with his brother playing the lute on a sofa, wearing
a pair of jeans.

He’s tired of it, he says, the media fiascos and
Hollywood typecasts, of being seen through the
pigeonhole of the ‘Evil Arab’, watching distrustfully, edgy,
as the world gathers and stares as if wanting to stare through
bulletproof glass.

He pauses the video midway to explain the seagull,
standing there in his parents’ walled garden,
found one morning by the groundskeeper, its wing
broken from an aerial miscalculation. It hadn’t cowered
when a merciful hoe was raised above its head,
just blinked.

But the gardener couldn’t bring himself to do it, and
instead returned with some bread and seeds, as he would do
everyday, for years to come. The gull’s wingtip dragging
over the paving stones, pinions frayed and stringy with dirt;
the enclave’s sandy corners stamped with its webbed tracks
and the trailing squiggles of its endless

Pressing play again, the bird, unsure of this documentarist,
circles with smooth steps, orbiting the camera, watching,
distrustful, edging closer to the walls, ever further,
as if riding the seaside thermals of its earlier days,
when an invisible buoyancy had lifted it with
a lightness that was greater, even, than
the way we imagine freedom
to feel.

~ Mark Lavorato

Mark Lavorato is a Canadian author and who has just finished his second novel. His first, Veracity, was published by Rain Publishing in 2007. His short fiction has been published in Zeugma, Stranger Box, and Miss Saphira’s, and his poetry by Poetry Canada Magazine, Leaf Press, Inscribed, Big Pond Rumours, WTF Magazine, Cerebration, Armada Quarterly, White Chimney, Miss Saphira’s, The Orange Room Review, MÖBIUS, Raven Poetry, Interpreter’s House, The Southernmost Review an international anthology by The BluePrintReview, and Ascent Magazine, where he won first place in their premier print edition contest.

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