Leila Segal

No one will know

Woke up mouth-caught, suspended in solitude, not a muscle move. Fling open a window      breathe in the life outside.

He is not a man.

Presence            presence when you want absence. It is so hard to stay here sometimes.

I see blurred green because he brings me my coffee; I do not know him and I am so grateful for this kindness. I did not even have to ask. You know, I did not even realise – crazy lady – that I was going to cry. Swept in the felt of my bed, nothing came but white.

I want this puzzle to come falling down all around my head like snow; I will be buried beneath.

Slow quiet this morning. Still-moving. He has left; walked out into the dust in his coat with smoke blurring him about. Now I am suspended here. I am suspended in this day, blowing in-between.

I will be lost in the day. No one will know.

Everyone is in hood and scarves. I am only in thin. From a cold country I am. Meirav told me I am not wearing enough but I am from a cold country. In my country we heat our houses; here, I shiver in my coat at night, a fan blowing hot air on my tan-clad ankles until they burn. Meirav read my writing and she cried.

All the world outside this window goes by speeded up, rushes around as if we are the only still point.

He is not a man, his still-swept shoulders race over me and his still-stooped shoulders never had to stand tall and now they’re falling down.

I opened my window to take in the life outside.

Who are these crowd of people in their puffa coats when I’m only in a slip of a shirt? How is it that I have so few clothes? My suitcase was 20.9Kg in the end. ‘You are lucky,’ the woman at the check-in said.

I left Meirav’s house and walked down Ahad Ha’am. I can endure. For so long like a camel without a drink. You know, you carry the cloud around you. You know that, don’t you? You inhabit this place; you leave it when you choose.

No one will know. I move completely silent in this world. This is why I write.




Leila Segal‘s Breathe: Stories from Cuba is out now from Flipped Eye. Her prose is often experimental, exploring fragmentation and strangeness, and how language can be used to unify or drive apart. Read more at

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