by Rima Rantisi
It begins as undiscernibly as a glass cracked in a cupboard. Like when, on a sunny day on a bougainvillea-trimmed terrace, your body catches an undetectable virus. Like the hollowed-out time of a blackout after taking various substances to forget. Like magma rising in a friend who leaves the city, you know to never return. Like a text message that sets off a revolution. Like a spark dancing toward a hangar full of ammonium. Then thick discernible layers fold onto each other, through them seismic waves travel: crowded hospitals where lungs fall out of chests, bank coffers where paper money dissolves, ghost-like pink smoke filled with souls that float over the Port for eternity. You watch, unable to avert your eyes, as the city trembles and breaks open, its guts splattering everywhere, iridescent and black and a zillion hues of red. It bursts into shapes that you hadn’t imagined, but you knew, somehow, were there. In corona’s emptied streets, you bend over and peer into the sewers, the iron covers of which have been recently stolen, leaving gaping holes where the dirty truth is awash in hideous glory. In the quiet, the world is amplified. You cannot unhear the neighbor’s daily opera practice from the Yacoubian building, nor unsee the city shudder with the newly homeless. In the grand solitude and the screeching halting of life as you knew it, you resign to the city’s steady rupture even as you change irreversibly, never again to see things pass as they once were. It was then, inside the shift—when the world was the quietest and the most horrible—that we discerned what we loved the most.
Rima Rantisi teaches at the American University of Beirut and is the founding editor of Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal. Her essays can be found in Literary Hub, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Past Ten as well as in translation. Her essay “Days of Pearls,” published in The Slag Glass City, was nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
SLAG GLASS CITY · Volume 7 · June 2021
Header image by Zeina G. Halabi.