Felucca Ride - Poem by Sheena Blackhall
We sit in the hold like fish,
Squinting up through the sun
As the white sails creak and flap.
This is slow-motion sailing,
Snail-trailing over the tilting, drunken waves.
A donkey drinks from the Nile
So close you count the whiskers on its muzzle.
The Nile is play, food, life
Peasants and beasts drink free.
A black dog sits on the bank
Like a sphinx, too hot to blink,
Nailed to its own shadow.
The crew is a father and son
The father issues soft or wordless orders
The boy is smoking, his curls like a young Pan.
A girl is gesturing on the shore,
Hand to mouth, hand to mouth
Mute mime of poverty
A hawk flies over an island
A reed cutter loads his boat
Waves froth like small volcanoes
The noiseless collapse of bubbles
Small boats sprout begging arms
Like winter trees.
In the blue vault of the sky
An egret pecks the air
His white fez all a-jiggle.
A great Gomorrah of tourism floats on past
A gleaming cruiser, trailing its own wake
A minaret dwarfs the palms
That splay like fans over a village lane.
My life has passed
Like this white Nile felucca
Slipping between time’s banks
With scarce a wake
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