A Desert Passage

Long shadows cross the canvas floor,
A dying ember fades through the open door,
Evening breezes gather dusty lint,
Spell casting in this desert tent.

Trees grow not on the craggy rock,
Life here harsh and sorely mocked,
Amid distance bells of a tended flock,
The roosted cries of a guinea cock.

Taguella served on a wooden plate,
Butter, onions, dried tomatoes, a bit of date,
Green tea to drink the thirst to slake,
Settled in the dark of night to wait.

Overhead the universe show is displayed,
God’s infinite brilliant cosmic statement made,
A canopy of stars dream of Salamah bint Saïd,
The veil’s temptation of the flesh betrayed.

A woolen blanket safe and warm to share
Flesh to flesh, heart to heart bodies bare,
Emi Koussi sacred breath cools loves’ night air,
Inhaling the jasmine scent of kohl dark hair.

The cycle complete as the morning awakens,
Day beckons to return what night has taken,
Camp is broken and the blankets shaken,
Gourass and milk to the journey hasten.

There is a hole in the heart at leaving,
Women wail and men tear with grieving,
Ma’a salama, ila l-liqa’ – well wishes pleading,
No joy is found in the sight receding.

Copyright: 2008, Donald Harbour

6 thoughts on “A Desert Passage

  1. The rhythm is mesmerizing, it _made_ me savor the poem slowly; so specific, so tactile. When I reached “there is a hole in the heart at leaving”, I was already becoming a bit sad I would never be able to read it for the first time again.

    Isn’t it interesting how many of the poems inspired by this week’s readwritepoem “elegy” prompt involve the taste and smell of food? 🙂


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