Kasr Avenue was where the birds lived, In a mud silo millet seeds flourished All winter long and through the dry season Laila was in my soul, also Majnoon’s madness. I was a girl growing up and you, crossing the Nile—yes a flat boat is all you had— Came in, trousers wet and flapping, Sat down with your back to me. Hunayn ibn Ishaq the great physician Thought of the heart as the oven of the body. In the Grand Hotel the waiters wear Cummerbunds, always maroon, over tunics, white I asked for a lemonade with crushed ice. Majnoon lived with his goats in the desert north of here On a mountain of sand, where the sky turns dark The color of millet burnt in a stone oven.
Copyright © 2018 by Meena Alexander. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets