Lit-Mag #42 – The Arabian World
Blue-headed agamas dart and pause, and little
Lizards curl their tails like scorpions.
Under the rock, the puff-adder hides in shade.
Donkey droppings dry in the sun.
Foraminifera lie loose on rock,
Their ardent, snake-like bodies now only time.
What is there to learn? Stay out of the sun?
The many-venomed earth turns in time to stone?
Mosquito larvae squiggle in the mud pond
left from last month’s rain. Donkey prints
mark where they have drunk the fetid water.
An Egyptian vulture soars above white rock and red sand.
Life is death is stone
That is what we can call our own.
An Answer from a Camel
Problem: how to see the pinched skin
And red-edged center of the apricot
Pulling back from its desiccating
Seed and hold in the eye the taut fuzz of
youth, juices rushing to the lightest touch?
And more: to feel back to the pale
Blossom’s strength pulsing through
Petal-thin veneer, its luminous beauty
already brown at the edges, while the
seed surges within, seed to seed,
wet to dry, platinum sun to russet loam.
So the face of the camel, the Arab
symbol of patience and strength: shovel
snout with plum-pit nostrils, level head
held disdainfully still above brush and dust,
soft coffee eyes wet in the tears of time,
winking to the slow chew of a
precautionary cud, recalling centuries
of burden and slaughter, foreseeing
centuries of burden and slaughter.
But just now in the stretch for a few
Leaves of a flowering ghaf tree,
dreaming of great brown ancestors
and sheath-wet calves in the sandy
wastes of a desert sun whose center
is only hot and hotter gas that
can only end in immolation.
Answer? See, suffer, dream, dry up.