Cairo On The Radio

Down the endless garden
to a hand-built shed of wonders
and little me, sitting with my grandad
listening to all the voices
pushing through the static

What magic in those wires!
The narrow band, the wide
The squelch and the gain
The whistle and the whine
sounds I’ll never forget

The spectrum of a planet
chattering
Such wisdom in rough fingers
so deft upon the dial
gently they’d spin the roulette wheel
and flip between tunings

I was constantly in awe
at this window on the world
My ear up against the glass
of infinite possibility
and my grandad’s gentle teaching
explaining everything

We’d eavesdrop on conversations
clattering
fizzing through the airwaves
speaking so quickly
in strange new cadences
We’d hear calls to prayer
that sounded nothing like
the tuneless church bells of home

‘Where’s the microphone’ I’d say
‘can we speak back?’
he’d remind me
‘the most important thing, sometimes
is just to listen’
O, I was learning…

And when we were done
he’d disconnect the aerial
and gently warn me
how lightning storms
could blow up the receiver
O, how powerful, how dangerous
how exciting!

Charlie, Alpha
India, Romeo
Oscar

Come back…

[2020]

Thanks for reading.