Batuta, a 14th century Moroccan,
the Muslim world’s Marco Polo.
He crossed the Sahara expecting wealth
& robes of honor in Timbuktu. His gifts:
"three rounds of bread, a piece of beef
fried in gharti, a calabash with curdled milk."
Later, at a small feast of a root like taro,
all six of his party took ill. One died.
Batuta survived by forcing himself to vomit.
The world was larger than he’d imagined,
& in weakness he thought his dead friend lucky.
On the trip home, Batuta found he’d lost
rapport with the gait of camels but could now
derive a certain comfort by admiring endless
shapes of women lounging along the dunes.
The sand would never again be so forgiving.