Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2015  Vol. 14 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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In the Rub’ al Khali

You’ll want to cover yourself. The morning
cry from the muezzin strips the sky.

Ptolemy was first to reveal
the desert’s entry gate to the world,

calling Muscat, hidden harbor. You believe
all any person wants is to be seen,

but here you stand under the cloudless eye
and know how Eve and Adam felt—

sweet and tart fruit lashed their mouth,
transforming them: bare to exposed.

Wrap up your frankincense, your bridal chest
of meteor stones in layer after layer

of earthly cloth. When the day has glazed
you in its kiln, when you’re the only

vertical line crossing the horizon,
it’s a relief to kneel, drench your face

in fine red sand. Let’s feed each other
a bowl of dates, let’s build a courtyard garden

surrounded by high walls. Before the first prayer
ends and dawn blinds us with its charge,

let’s trap the darkness, Love,
hold all its stars under our shawls.


If satellites patrol our heaven,
if beetles leave encrypted tracks

around our sleeping mats
for a thousand mornings,

if our story orbits back
to when the desert was

the ocean, if
you put your mouth

to me like a jellyfish,
like a diesel kiss, like I am

a bottle of well water,
if we crush each other,

like a reef whose happy ending
is to be reborn as dunes. Beloved

caravan, sweet eon, wind erosion—
If it hasn’t rained in years, we’ll live

on miraculous green shoots,
as when our vows were new.  end  

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