The ink stains on the rollers, like so much
coughed up blood, are dry to the touch.
Halls echo desertion, and dust mates
None knock but the bulldozer.
None knock but the man in the ghutra.
The stories, the photos,
the rusted presses.
They cannot speak.
The bulldozer rumbles a Bedouin language,
deep, guttural, pre-historic,
one extended moan.
Yet even as snapping metal shrieks
beneath collapsing walls,
a loose sheaf flutters free.
It carries an ink-lined olive branch.
It’s now been two and a half years since the closure of Al-Wasat newspaper. The government of Bahraini indefinitely suspended the only independent paper in the country from publication in June 2017, forcing its closure. The paper was founded in 2002 in that distant moment of optimism Bahrain witnessed at the turn of the century. It was the most forward-thinking newspaper in the Gulf and now it is gone. In June 2019, Al-Wasat’s printing presses were demolished, and the paper’s era brought to a final close.
This poem is written in its memory. It was published in November 2019 in the book Peterloo Poems by Manchester People by Seven Arches Publishing.