The Amman I know

by | March 3, 2022

the Amman I know, wakes up early in the summer
stretching out her feet as the adhan sounds.
streets remain silent bas the scraping of sweepers
and the corner bakery rolling up its shutters.

slowly, the city awakens with the honks of taxis
and squeaky carts of ka’ak bread, she stirs
as the national anthem fades in the distance
as-Salam al-Malaki al-Urduni

disjointed, identical apartments cram the beige skylines of the sloped city
as though each fighting for their rightful place
and where the hills roll on and on, the pattern continues beyond
while the blue-domed Citadel holds her fort. or is it a façade of political stability?

“our parents used to say they had to climb up mountains to go to school”
yet now, the children still have to.
we sat there early one morning, observing the schoolkids
huffing and puffing up the daraj, running late to the madraseh
as we sipped sweet shai and watched the world go by.

Amman: the city that rises early, yet sleeps late
she rouses again in the evening of the cool summer nights
after her mid-noon slumber. when it is too warm, too sluggish
to even try to venture outside.

coffeehouse evenings in wast al-balad, with their blinding, fluorescent lights
where wisps of argeeleh float over conversation, backgammon and shai
but ya habibi, look: our time is running out. the nicotine clouds our pain, our memories
of the city where many struggle to stay alive.

others may find distractions in the manthar, the matal
a view conjured, amidst the eternal hills
and they sit. we gaze into the openness, not knowing what comes beyond
or after.

“it is a very Jordanian thing to do.”
“perhaps they need the open space.”

in the Amman I know, full of life.



Words by Itrisyia Dayini, Artwork by Eloise Cooke

Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, broadcasted five times a day from mosques.
Salam al-Malaki al-Urduni, ‘The Royal Anthem of Jordan’
Daraj, staircase
Madraseh, school, or any type of educational institution
Shai, black tea, often served with mint leaves
Wast al-balad, downtown Amman
Argeeleh, shisha or hookah
Ya habibi, literally “my lover”, but may be used platonically for close friends
Manthar, “Scenery” or “view”
Matal, Literally “facing” or “overlooking”, but used to refer to a designated observation point