IN EGYPT

Siham Karami

Our night flight lands in Cairo, Queen of Sand,
whose shutters swallow city lights like quicksand. 

Your sister serves us gritty sandwiches
of bread— to meet weight quotas— baked with sand. 

We squander hours flagging speeding taxis. 
I, the wilting comma. You, the ampersand. 

I lose myself in crawlspace at the pyramid—
reduced, like any other grain of sand. 

Imagine hoisting these huge stones this high. 
Imagine labor measured by this sand. 

Ocean-years have worn me down to driftwood,
light and bald. How much more will they sand?

Your relatives no longer want us here. 
The weight of family ties, the spreading sand. 

Meanwhile treasures beckon to young men. 
Just keep digging deeper in the sand

The ravenous light in Cleopatra's eyes 
awaits us all, too— coiled, an urge in sand. 

This arrow in my heart is made of glass. 
And when I die, who'll sort its pearls from sand?


Previously published in Tilt-a-Whirl, Issue 9, Winter-Spring 2013

 

SIHAM KARAMI's poetry appears or will appear in The Comstock Review, Measure, Unsplendid, Möbius, String Poet, The Centrifugal Eye, Mezzo Cammin, Angle Poetry, Wordgathering, Loch Raven Review, Snakeskin, Raintown Review, The Lavender Review, Atavic Poetry, Innisfree Journal, and the anthology Irresistible Sonnets, among other places. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she was inspired to write ghazals by the work of Agha Shahid Ali and Roger Sedarat.