A poem by David Wheatley
The argan grove has goats in its hair,
swinging in the branches at night,
mild eyes aflutter, who strip
the nuts of their fruit, passing them
in dungy clumps for pressing down
to the oil you shake on our bread at sunset.
It is forbidden by law to disturb
a stork’s nest: an imam who does so
is turned to a stork. A palace, let
the king think what he likes, is a pretext
for the storks’ nests high on its walls,
to which each night you watch them return.
A sand-coloured cat becomes a remainder,
two blue eyes on a bed of sand,
a donkey a fly-kissed, dusty flinch
from a blow expected and not delivered,
the heat a violence turned on itself,
a lizard’s tail come away in your hand.
And you, my witness, are the field whence
a child has driven the blank-eyed goats,
the nest on which the stork’s legs buckle,
the dirty puddle that slakes the donkey
and cat’s midday thirst then vanishes,
as a lizard vanishes, under a stone.