IN THE MAGHREB
El Ain, Loueta, Sefrou
Beneath rocky cliffs, by dusty banks
Cool, clear water flows across the stones
Through beds of reeds, where fishes flash (and turtles lurk),
To compact sheep, dun brown and thirsty,
Wading through the water boatmen’s scull regatta.
Goats leap from low stone walls,
Tails curled and fluttering, charge and butt
As lean cows sway, heads low and lowing,
Tails swish and swatting,
To drink and foul the stream with noisome splatter.
Heat shimmers above the arid ground.
As flocks seek shelter in the olive groves
And dogs lie, tongues lolling,
Panting in the dust among the scrubby thorns
Or bark their duels, antiphonal and rough.
In the cooling evening calm,
Donkeys labour up the slope,
Water carriers, full and bulging
As the giant disc of an orange moon
Crests the distant mountains’ rim.
Fez El Bali
A castellated noose of walls strangles the passageways,
Squeezes the merchandise into the streets,
Pushes up aspiring minarets of mosques, madressahs.
Muezzins intone across the city’s roofs, ‘Allah akhbar! Allah akhbar!‘
The buffeting heat drives hijabs, jalabas, jeans & jumpers
Through the horseshoe Bab Boujnoud
As heavy-laden donkeys, overburdened carts
Thread through the close packed throng –
Smell of baking, olives, spices, meat on the bone.
Below the woody slatted shade,
Beneath the chequered sails of cloth,
A maze of alleys tempt, repel,
Wend and splinter
Down to the dark heart of the medina.
Free above the palms and through the poplars,
Swifts skim, scream and swoop
And in the wide, wide square, a young man
Kisses a policeman
On both cheeks.
Copyright © James Rose 2016
I am a retired physician who started writing again seriously in the last year or two.