In Marrakesh


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.

David Wheatley

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