Tuleilat el Anab

Coming up for air,
Beads of sweat
Under the partings of
Our Bedouin-braided hair,
We engorged on the maps
And the keys of each other,
We talked of exploring
Petra, shimmering
Like a mirage within
The sacred heart of
A well-preserved miracle
Of treasuries and temples.

When we descended from
The Aqaba governate and
Its tributaries of sand,
We paused at her
Long-abandoned
Nymphaeum where
The Nabataeans drank
Thirstily, mid-summer;
The guide-book we shared read:
“Desert life requires
The efficient management
Of water and resources”.
Nevertheless, you swam
In the four-chasmed
Sandstone stomachs
Of my desire for you
And triumphed, for
You defended me
From the Horus-headed
Sovereign of Bricklayers’
Allegiance with Herod
And flooded me with
Nutrients fit for
Training vines
And farming livestock.

In these respects you saved me,
Giving something of yourself
Until, punctured by this love,
We exhaled and felt deflated,
As compelled like every other
Omen-focused resident
To work, to earn
Something as blessed
As a night uninterrupted,
Every one of us here
Must eventually let go of something;
There is nothing more essential,
Nor necessary, nor vital
Than the essence of a moment,
And so we deserted the hours
Of indolence we would have
Shared replenishing
The waters of that
Decorated fountain
In a sun-drenched town square,
In a different state of wonder.