Base Camp 

For Dana, FaadimahIbtissam, Maryam, Mohamed, Rawan, Rui, SajedaSayedaSujoud and Tarek. 

You are a mountaineer. 

Throughout the night, you climb  

The airless heightof new language. 


From your base camp bed,  

its pillow plumped with snow, 

you lace up your exhausted boots,  

fold your inedible map,  

and ascend into your mind, 

under a sky locked into silent cloud. 


Difficult syllables wait to trip you. 

Misunderstanding holds its breath,  

creaks its avalanche warning. 

You cannot afford to risk  

mistakes in the darkness. 

You carry no oxygen. 

There is no respite.  

You are ice and alone. 


 Your learning tongue tries to shape itself 

around the impossible stones 

you find in your mouth.  


You stare at the sky as a stranger. 

You have followed the night into first light 


where the clouds unknit,  

where the waking sun  

exposes the sheer  

face of your future,  

the peaks dwarfing the dawn.  


You have risen to meet the mountain,  

the horizon your deepest breath. 


You plant your bright flag at the top of the world. 

You will fly all the colours of your family. 

You have sung yourself into the sky. 

You will dream yourself into voice. 


© Rosemary Harris 2019