Poetry: The View From The Tenth Floor

Photo By Nadine Abdel Latif


June 2022, Maadi- Cairo, Egypt 


Here I stand on the tenth floor 

I’m high enough to reach the clouds 

High enough to see the city 

down the gaps in my blouse 


While the people crawl down below in the streets 

                                                                                                              Like ants racing to something sweet 

I can hear the sounds of swishing cars 

Of                      honking horns 

Of                                                                 gentle guitars 

All in the city I call home 

(Or used to)

Why don’t I feel at home 

(The way that I used to?)


I drive late at night through the streets 

there is not a voice to be heard 

A blink to observe 

A laugh to embrace 

Not a soul on this earth 


My city is empty 

Depleted to its core 

When did everyone leave?

Where did everyone go? 


If they found a new home why didn’t they take me too? 

Why did they leave me to cruise on the empty streets 

In a city that sleeps too soon? 


I used to hear god in these streets 

Now they’re so hollow that when pins drop

They leave sounds like atom bombs 

I used to feel god when I slept 

But now I’m stuck, 

                                            with my eyes glued open 

                                                                                                      With the sound of silence 

                                                                                                                                                                     at  dawn

How could things change so quickly? 

For a second I was a little girl 

Thinking I held the world in the palms of my dirty hands 


Then a teenager, 

bruised and broken 

Left with lust for this city’s space and time

I felt belonging in the chaos 

Because the chaos was mine 


And I always seem to care about what others think 

And I forget that I’m a whole human being with thoughts and feelings 

All to please a generation of people who decorate years of trauma as culture

instead of healing 


Now I’ve grown with my roots 

And here I lay feeling everything as it falls apart 

Hearing every bullet before it shoots 

Every scream before the city opens its mouth 

Seeing each tear fall 

Before the gas even hits the ground 


Where is my city 

“Mother of the world” 

She built us our home within these streets 

But now all she does is sit and watch us bleed


Here I stand on the tenth floor 

High enough to see the city down the gaps in my blouse 

When did all of this happen

And will I ever figure it out? 

And as the strings of these streets tear from tuning 

I realize that I never stopped running 

My legs just stopped moving.


- The View From The Tenth Floor