Lost in Souk

Bamboo slats overhead fret light
on many pathways and bake the clay
except in the butchery section where
steaming organs are on display and drip
warm salty blood on mulchy ground.
A donkey ridden by a small wild boy
nudges me sprawling into a camel’s liver
to high-pitched rebukes and squawks
of chickens in string-and-bamboo cages
which give off a blend of enteric smells.

All goods on offer, dried fruits and spices,
coloured garments, bright and glittering,
silver slippers, keffiyehs, kanduras,
and scarves of silk, gleaming brassware,
tightly patterned carpets, leatherwork,
long-tailed monkeys and singing birds.
A man walks by with twenty loaves
of new-baked bread on a wooden
raft carefully balanced on his head;
he moves easily through the maze,
from node to vein, and back again.

The song of the Muezzin grows fainter
as I am drawn further in. My group
has disappeared; there is everything to see
and feel and smell, but no winding thread,
no exit from this new bewildering world.

Michael G. Casey