Paved roads are usually too dangerous.
Better to drive on hard-pack-sand.
I drive the Sahara with Babies on Board:
Daughter’s first day in first grade
Little brother goes along for the ride.
No horizons here: just shades of gritty yellow
endless yellows: sand melts into sky
Until this unseen sun that cannot cast shadows
Disappears and Night falls with the
Deep blue velvet of a Christmas Card Sky.
On this no-road “track” at 6:00 AM, it’s hot already.
School starts at 6:30 no worries. I charge on.
What’s wrong with the steering! Oh no!
From the boot I pull my jack and
A lug nut “thingie” which I call a star.
Oh no! I can’t jack the rear tire up!
I’ve lost too much weight! What?
Can’t eat here: too hot.
Now I can’t save my babies!
“MADAM! MIGHT WE BE OF SOME ASSISTANCE?”
Four bearded men on donkey-back ride silently from behind.
They come to me in gellabias and turbans,
Speaking British English.
They bow when they dismount.
I turn my star over to them.
I see they know what to do.
Two men take turns turning;
Two men make shade
With a donkey blanket.
They stand tall and hold it
Above the rear doors to shade my children.
Arms straight in the air for as long as it takes!
They are the protectors of my little ones.
One wants to give them water
And the shouting begins!
Khawaji have to be careful with water!
They hurry and finish the job
So I offend them with a monetary gift.
“No Madam, in the desert it is our duty
To care for each other,” he smiles.
I’m embarrassed, I’m a fool, I apologize.
“No Madam, malesh!” he smiles again:
The easy generosity of the Desert Arab.
I bow my head. I bless them as they ride off,
Little donkey butts in the distance
With an uncertain horizon.
Melanie Wood 10/7/2014