poem15 Oct 2018 09:53 am


She veils the eyes of the prophets
and coalesces from the night
profound, meaningful

the flames of her pupils
cool to auburn and seductive
— whirl — in a desert of her making
and they move her closer to that goal
though she cannot say her master’s name

or point him out to us
with the certainty of a stargazing priest
in the city, which has so many names,
masters and minarets, so many priests,
so many calls to prayer
vying for the souls of the faithful.

She slips past the guards
in silence; they smile
and do not search her —
her naked body. What does she have
to conceal? Some flaw, perhaps

a voice like breaking glass? thoughts
inane and childish? a deluge of chatter
to extinguish love’s torpid cinders
after the fact? No matter.

They laugh and speak of their master
wishing they were him, to have

what he has: the power
to draw such beauties to his bed
and shut them up, night after night


Their qareen shriek a warning, nails
piercing into — through — the souls
of the watchful guards, those wardens
unable to hear the whispers given in sleep
when so wide awake.


The tent is a palace inside
heaped with bolts of silk and satin, a box
of gold filigree with billowing clouds of platinum,
a heaven of gemstones sequestered within.

Their master smokes hashish from a hookah
and speaks of the prophets — men and women —
who come to him every night as he sleeps
on the same bed that he’d love to share
with her. “Are they always right?” she asks,
drawing a shebriya from her mouth. He thinks
this a wonderful trick, and tells her so.

“Are the prophets not at times silent?” she
whispers, revealing another trick
of the blade.

The guards outside fail to hear him,
or they mistake his dying gasp
for one of pleasure. She, enticing Sila,
leaves in the dawn as she arrived;
they only smile as she walks away,
naked and unashamed.


Qareen stand over him
and disturb his mirroring pool
with tears of corundum and of jade

illustration is Salome by Manuel Orazi, 1930

Trackback this Post | Feed on comments to this Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.