we came at last to an adobe square
sun-bleached and honeyed with busy voices.
barking market traders hawked their wares –
halite, tin and nugget-silver
mined from those blue and hazy mountains,
caged birds, of many colours, uttered
(though we could not speak their language).
spices sillaged the noon dry air and monkeys,
leashed, and feral children circled everywhere.
chiming women, hourglassed and gauzed
the gaze of dim and wizened men
whose stalls were spread with mason jars, mirrored glass,
pots and trays, scales of brass and weights – a balance act
or trapeze. a cabaret of purse strings drawn and open.
we listened to their barter trading off the whitewash walls
and, bedded beneath a trestle board, laid with sheets
of oiled hemp, at the roughened feet of some dark merchant,
we spent an hour sleeping, dreaming in the desert breeze,
but hearing all – the shuffled coins, the muezzin’s lament;
our own sweet lullaby – and all this was for free.