Ames K. Swartsfager
At first the grain of red sand sat up and gave a little jump,
Soon others join as the gentle desert breeze grows stronger.
The wind gains strength as whirlwinds twirl their ballet across the desert.
In Ibrāhīm al Muhammad’s tent, there began a soft thrumming on its top and sides.
He sits on his cushion waiting.
The was a crash as the wind, now dirty with red sand,
Bangs on the tent, trying to move it out of its way.
The goats taken, by the youngest son, to the leeward cliff of a butte a mile away.
Ibrāhīm is alone in his shelter—now snapping in the wind.
He sits waiting.
Ibrāhīm shivered as the dusty wind brings cold with his loneliness.
He takes some apple tobacco and places it in the hookah,
Lights it with a glowing charcoal ember held in a makeshift tong,
Puffs and draws up the sweet apple laden smoke.
He clutches his cloak tighter, waiting.
The tempest grabs the goat-hair shelter and shakes it,
Then shakes it even harder, but the obstacle in its path refuses to move.
Ibrāhīm places a small pot of water on the charcoal to boil,
Adding a handful of sweet smelling sage to the pot,
And coriander seeds, and puffs on his pipe seeking the sweet apple smoke.
As he waits.
Silence brings his senses awake—had the wind subsided?
No, again the battering, leaving the air filled with red dust.
His wives are gone now: Alsheeba, my first, dead of old age;
Flashima, his second and most beautiful, died in childbirth.
The tea is ready, and he waits.
He remembers the children playing and Sheera, his last wife, laughing
And romping with them on the beautiful blue and white carpet.
The carpet a blur now, because his old eyes do not see; yet still he remembers.
And his mind does not consider the happiness they had, just her death.
Time is like a camel train in the desert, it moves us forward, only memory can move us back.
Ibrāhīm smoothes his grey beard, and satisfied, he waits.
He does not need the whistling desert wind, to reminisce.
All he wants is his hookah, his sage tea—its sweet fragrance fills the tent.
One last shake of the tent and the desert wind—in its anger subsides—moves on.
Ibrāhīm listens and he hears her coming, his head droops in ancient tiredness.
She’s here at last.
The whirlwind ballerinas make a great curtsy and fall to the ground—finished.
The grain of red rock, which was coursing through the wind to find a new place of habitation,
Falls to the land happy to make neighbors in the sand.
Ibrāhīm al Muhammad, the old Bedouin, starts his journey back to dust,
Waiting no more.