The Maghreb moon reprieved the reckless rays of Apollo.
Among a thousand bounding shadows, I stood alone,
Immured by rose-stained air that enraptured an old sovereignty,
That had once surged with echoes of ancestral, sacred sounds,
Which had faded within the annals of myth and record,
So brazenly erased in the eroding of warring tribes.
I waded amid the waning desert sea of a city
That did not burn heedlessly, to hide astronomized antiquity
Behind the tapestry of delirious day and silent smog.
There, I saw you waiting by the sun-shorn, wind-worn walls,
Yourself, weathered by distress and redress of which Atlas only knew,
And too excluded from the waves of laughter of acquainted rendezvous.
The familiar face of an unfamiliar wanderer, how strangely you struck me.
Your gaze deepened at the chaotic song of the stone-strung fortress,
Swept by and in the catenated melodies of lands unknown,
Before you too slipped away amid the shadows,
Seized by the swells of sanded faces —
And with you, an opaqueness that no longer obscured me.
“The oud” is a memory from when I was traveling alone and attended a conference/festival on sacred sounds in Fes, Morocco. I was lost in a crowd, amid listless wonder and inundating stories, when I noticed someone who I felt was similar to me but seemed more confident and attentive. I’m not sure what drew my attention to theirs in a sea of anonymous faces, but I remembered the beauty of human interaction. Yesterday’s stranger could be tomorrow’s friend. And then I didn’t feel so alone.
[Published the Mayo Clinic’s “The Tempest” (May 2019)]
January 15, 2019