acquiesce | breathe poetry

Amid snake charmers rioting atop milk crates overturned

and storytellers unraveling their tongue-seeds across the sand

amid a field of ankles stained with henna tattoos

a woman stands waiting for her husband.

She lays her baby onto the small of her back, wraps their bodies

together with a headscarf, tying knot after knot around her belly.

The bell of a passing bicycle rings and the man sitting next to me

removes his pointy shoes, exposing the long red radishes of his toes.

There are men on scooters with flat tires and cross-legged gazelles

riding shotgun””their embroidered dresses circle the square.

And I’ve never seen camels along the Atlantic

or the scattering of veils washing themselves in the water

or the light plucked from palm and cacti, turning the ivory

handle of my armoire into the Marrakech moon.

As the odor of incense fills the air above the polluted blow

of motorbikes shouting through the media, the call to Azan begins.

Like a pinprick of ancient voices emerging from the sand

it echoes like the wail of a donkey through the alley next door

past the gutted fish lining the labyrinth walkways

the red stripe of their spines stripped of impurities.

It breathes the smell of mint leaves past storefronts

selling spices, dried cherries and cashews.

It sounds of madness, of anger, of wheat

of paisley sewn into silk.

It sounds like Allah himself shouting from the sky

ash-breath pouring from his mouth.

It is then that the circling horsefly lands

resting his sternum on my temple.

And the finches caged in the courtyard settle

silence their wandering eyes.

Even the storks guarding the city’s gates

spring up, then kneel again.

Even the colors of every painted facade””the browns

the yellows, the reds””dragged from the brush

each filament of color seems to emerge

and perform its own ablution.

How can we not savor this breath?

Like the remnant of sun still warming the walls

or les femmes de ménage preparing the evening tea

like the silver cups on our table

I like the line between lip and liquid to be thin.

Like the dancing cobras enticed from their baskets

Like storytellers recounting the truths of time.

How we feel them to our death, how we devour them willingly

like blind scars that guide us.

like snails in the sand, bellies burying themselves deeper.

like the tugging of rope, like the waiving of white flags

I too, turn myself over.

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