Monthly Archives: October 2014

FIRST LESSON IN THE SAHARA

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

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