Algebra

Tramway

Issue 3

It's Always Strange to Sleep in Cities

by Kapka Kassabova

Kapka Kassabova

for Marti Friedlander

It’s always strange to sleep in cities
you haven’t seen in daylight.
You could be anywhere, anybody
could be breathing next door. In the night
under used blankets you dream
of waking to the world’s highest spires,
fastest clouds, brightest snow.

You dream of drunken rooftops
strewn with shards of broken stars
and you dream of the people you love.
And suddenly, they’re here in the streets,
on the rooftops of this city
which is nothing, nothing
but shadows and light.

It seems they’ve always been here.
And you tell them without words
because words are not
in the nature of this dream
how much you’ve missed them.
How happy you are to be here. How afraid
of the future, of the past.

They thank you for your visit,
everything is fine, they say,
their mouths opening without a voice,
they didn’t think they’d see you here,
they try to touch you. Then dawn
breaks over the city
and they are gone.

Kapka Kassabova

Kapka Kassabova was born in Bulgaria, spent her 20s in New Zealand, and now lives in Edinburgh. She is the author of two poetry collections, many travel essays and guides, and her fiction debut this year is Villa Pacifica (Alma Books). She made her non-fiction debut with the childhood memoir Street Without a Name (Portobello 2008), and her new travel memoir about the Argentine tango, Twelve Minutes of Love, a tango story (Portobello) is out in November. She has written for the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Scottish Review of Books, Vogue, and Granta.com www.kapka-kassabova.com