Friday, March 5, 2010

Postcards from North Africa

Postcard #1

Oran, Algeria

The lion is Front de la Mer, squared by all the ice cream parlors of Oran.
Kids run circles round it, climb and slip down its Parisian green back while their parents push back,
scraping the aluminum chairs and settle in, scooping up bright, bright ice cream.
Even in the dark the pink and yellow, slippery blue shine through.
This is summer in Oran and the children run wild until the last prayer calls
on all sides and its time for home, home, home.

Postcard #2

Marrakesh (what the postcard doesn’t show)

small sputtering tan mini-taxis fouling the streets with their old diesel engines,
the street crowded with Moroccan girls walking shoulder to shoulder,
shirts cut off over shoulder just above the curve of belly
hips swagger, and looking.

the Moroccan Men-boys with their cheap jeans slung low
hair oiled back
loafers shine in the night heat

the old women waiting at bus stops,
their bulging woven shopping bags torn in corners sprouting cilantro’s muddy ends,
earthy carrots, turnips for the Friday couscous

these are the people here
not those not those women sitting in spotless white caftans and gold hoops,
watching a fantasy happen far below their starry hotels’ rooftop terrace

not these pasty Germans in earth-tone sandals sitting in bleeding heat getting stung by the black venom henna paste that curls round and in and round and out
while the sellers holler cool cold juice orange juice impossibly cold and pulpy in the furnace of the square, calling out greetings in every language

these are the people who live here, young boys of gangly legs and just a hint of fuzz on his upper lip and the old man who approaches, pushing his white hair back but not nervous, not really.
this, too is a trade, here.
he is shopping. just as I finger the glittering sequined slippers, the hint of sheep still in the purple leather he is tentatively he
he hesitates and then traces a single finger of the boy as they walk away together.