Amman sprawls, sun-struck, on seven 
hills, like a latter-day Rome, only 
less so. It was, in fact, once Roman, 
as the ruined theater downtown attests, 
but today the grown children of sheikhs 
drive herds of camel-colored 
Mercedes down the steep wadis. 
These castoffs of the rich Gulf nations 
bellow in the narrow streets of the souk, 
where the voices of gold and silver 
merchants buzz in their beehive shops. 
The cries of muezzins from a dozen mosques 
buzz likewise on the outer hills, 
blunting their stings against the double-
glazing of the wealthy. A water peddler 
hawks the sweat of his brow in a neighborhood 
frosted with roses. How wild, how strange 
it all seems, as exotic as a rose 
thrown in the face of a thirsty man.

From The Invisible World by John Canaday. Copyright © 2002 by John Canaday. Reproduced with the permission of Louisiana State University Press. All rights reserved.