AAYLAH WRITES TO HER LOVER

Janice D. Soderling

I wait for you in Zanzibar each night.
The velvet sky destroys our star each night.

My longing feeds on cinnamon and cloves.
Grief cuts me like a scimitar each night.

Swahili sears and lames my fluttering tongue.
I drop the money in a jar each night. 

The red colobus monkey keeps two wives.
Tents quiver in the old bazaar each night.

Bangi is my balm and I grow bolder.
I change into a sleek jaguar each night. 

Salt winds gently touch my secret places.
My rich wine turns to vinegar each night.

Taarab is my dance when I am sad.
I leave home in a motor car each night.

Habibi, I will not always be young.
The bald beachcombers pack the bar each night.

The Dutchman pokes my sister, says ja, nice.
I study my heart's crimson scar each night.

 

JANICE D. SODERLING's poetry, fiction and translations appear in many literary journals, in print and online. Among recent and forthcoming venues are Rotary Dial, Rattle, New Verse News, Measure, Light, Literary Bohemian, Modern Poetry in Translation, and Alabama Literary Review.