Poem

Taxi Driver, Take Me To Suq Waqif.

Poem

Taxi Driver, Take Me To Suq Waqif.

Yaa sawwaaq, khudthnee ilaa al-aswaaq

where I drink irgeela and honey with jasmine,

where I hear German, Arabic, and Persian

in a single breath,

where Qataris chant their pearl songs

and guests poke heads inside shops,

like opening a shell in search of desire.

 

Yaa sawwaaq, khuthnee ilaa al-aswaaq

Yaa sawwaaq tell me of your home,

where your brother lifts then lowers wetted sod

for half as much as this ride’s fare.

Tell me of the garden you keep in your mind,

the budding branches on greening trees,

the flowing blooms with a pronunciation

you try to teach my lips, but they fumble,

like a boy’s first steps,

like a spring’s early rain

on a hungry mountain,

hungry of the hard winter

where only cub-less wolves paw

and gazelles sure-foot as they dance

their hooves through fog

 

Yaa sawwaaq, khudthnee ilaa al-aswaaq

I want to go to the hanging carpets,

their stories carefully stitched by wrinkled fingers

and faces I’ve never seen, their hearts

I can only hold when I run

my own fingers, slightly scarred but soft,

down the silken crimson weaves,

down the myth of civilization, the divide

of animal and upright figures,

down into the beginning, when it was

star and seed and youth,

before the symphony of strings and horns,

before whistle, then echo,

even before the sun’s voice at dawn

when light would finally set its illumination,

once traveled longer than history, into a kitchen

where a mother braces her baby’s head into warming rays.

 

 

 

 

Yaa Sawwaaq, khudthunee ilaa al-aswaaq.

But before you take me there, Yaa Sawwaaq,

into the bustle of anxious eyes on customers’

bulging pockets, before I descend my feet

from the taxi and place my soles on marble colonnade

to waltz into the dinar’s black hole,

let us share the city lights in constant flicker

over the sea as dhows are blasting beats and laughs,

let us fast from feeling the hierarchy of coin,

how we cuff our wills onto glinting silver, Yes!

Let us forget that, Yaa Sawwaaq,

let us listen to the tale of two brothers

who lived by a well in the desert.

Once upon a time the well dried up,

left only a single cup to sip.

 

Yaa Sawwaaq, Khudthnee ilaa al-aswwaaq.

 

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