POETRY:  You Do Not Remember

you do not remember
(for Mansur)

you do not remember now
what you saw and heard in Fez
perched on your push-chair
on the long balcony
above our little square

the flute player with a grin
who would play a tune for one dirham
then pause to receive another
an old man in a turban
squatting on the dusty ground

the ecstatic threatening din
of Isawiyya dervishes
playing wedding pipes and drums

they invade the neighbour’s house
welcomed by running women
dressed in their best djellabas

the call to prayer soon after noon
the queue of Friday beggars
sharing their booty beneath a tree

the whisper of the breeze through the olives
silvering the undersides of leaves

the man with a mule carrying salt
or a loaf of solid sugar
to sweeten a pot of fresh mint tea

the noise of a game of football
the rough and tumble of growing up

the wail of a boy being bullied
followed by the voice of Monsieur Tazi
summoning his son to the midday meal


the dazzle of a whitewashed wall
the smell of couscous from the kitchen
and the sound of your father’s car
parking at last on the lane
Dada you shout jumping for joy

the road to the unfinished mosque
where we used to walk before dusk
the growl of a dog behind a gate

the cake specially made for your birthday
with a palm a star and a crescent moon
baked at the pâtisserie near the Hôtel Splendide

that all too brief and formative year
a world disappearing fast
a place you may one day share
those glimpses of a vanishing past

 


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