My unromantic poem for this unromantic time as the world is asleep like a spiral shell or like the maddening stairs

It takes time and effort to unfurl
It happens naturally though, for most,
Through nature’s imperative
Once we are old, though, we become acquainted with
How things shall happen
But we disdain repetitions
We rob a middle-aged man from his pseudosagacity
We teach ourselves the language of negation
Because unfurling never happened naturally
We bury the imperative’s hand with a heart divided
Between what it wants and what it mustn’t
And we walk like a carcass
A cephalopod with a shell to corroborate the theory
That all primitive cephalopods had shells, spiral ones
Like the maddening stairs



Ilhem Issaoui is a Tunisian researcher, poet, and translator. She has been published in many countries including the US, the UK, Canada, and India in print and online. She is in the process of publishing her second poetry collection.