A cosmic alignment sees World Poetry Day coincide with the first day of Spring on Sunday 21st March 2021. That said, this week’s poem is a reminder that not every day is a momentous celebration or turning point. Nadine Aisha Jassat‘s perfectly balanced ‘Somewhere / Today’ holds haze, heaviness, yearning, energy and exhilaration in suspension – it sees time and place as both claustrophobically close and terrifyingly infinite. It’s an achievement worthy of celebration.
In a further paradoxical twist, this poem is to be found in spoken-word collective Neu! Reekie!’s third printed anthology, #UntitledThree, edited by Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen along with poems by Claire Askew, Daljit Nagra, Dean Atta, Hannah Lavery, Harry Josephine Giles, Jackie Kay, Malachy Tallack, and many more. Spoken-word purists may prefer to scroll down to hear to Nadine read it on stage, courtesy of I am Loud‘s video.
Somewhere / Today Nadine Aisha Jassat I scroll Facebook, first, then Twitter. Refresh Instagram until it tells me there’s nothing new for me to see. I’m all caught up. So, I return to my newsfeed, consider getting out of bed, reflect that even my rhymes are turning lazy, as my body sinks low like a metal I refuse to name, and my life hovers in the haze. Somewhere, in this world, a woman is falling in love for the first time. She is wondering how she got to be so lucky, and her heart is so full in that moment that it forgets the weight of being lonely, and rises straight out of her chest. Somewhere, a group of friends are having the best night of their lives. Are screaming it, from the top of their invincible, inexhaustible lungs. Are holding on to each other, as if it will always be this way, their smiles joined from cheek to cheek to cheek, like a concertinaed ribbon, like a celebration parade. Somewhere, there is an adventurer paused at the top of their climb, taking in the view and the road behind, and saying to themselves; even if this was my very last day, I could go and it would be okay. I did what I came here to do. My life. My life. I have been all of these people, once. My heart has been high, my smile has lived in faces other than mine. I have known the fulfilment which brings peace enough to accept all further rest. But today I am only these heavy hands, unmoving in a room that feels half immune to time: me, vs the clock on the wall which presumes its own pace. Looking for something, I pick up my phone again. In its dark reflection, I meet my own fading face.
Nadine Aisha Jassat is the author of Let Me Tell You This (404 Ink, 2019), and her work features in It’s Not About the Burqa (Picador, 2020), Nasty Women (404 Ink, 2017), Islands Are But Mountains (Platypus Press, 2019) and more. She was named one of 30 Inspiring Women Under 30 in Scotland, received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers’ Award; and was shortlisted for the Outspoken London Prize for Poetry in Film, and the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2018. She was recently named by Jackie Kay as one of 10 compelling BAME writers working in the UK.