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Monday, July 19, 2010


The Sahara has shifted
an inch and a continent.

The dune you are standing on,
Ibrahim Ag Alhabib,

is also thousands of miles
from your feet: my windscreen

this morning is coated
in fine desert sand.

Never was shifty heart truer,
or truer to it its far-scattered sons

who touch across oceans of sand.
Among themselves

the Touareg are the Imazighen,
‘the free people’. In Arabic

‘Touareg’ means ‘forsaken by God’.
The sandmen of my youth

are forsaken by the Fassaroe pit,
the last gravel mixed

and the compacted fill
rolled flat. I see again

the brace of wheels
on the weighbridge, the great

engines ticking over,
at bay, and dust

that is no longer sand
in the drivers’ eyes.

I feel its drift, voiceless
and huge, within me,

and know I too
am transported, grain

by grain, and unsigned for,
the docket still in my father’s hand.

Over that brutalized earth
I see the tippers void

the rising clouds of their sandstorms,
a caravanserai

of transients negotiate
sand trails decades since

sand was there:
their mounts departed,

not a Thermos between them,
they and their shallow pits

soon exhausted, tiny-seeming
under the stars.


Mark Granier said...

This might interest you, taken on Halloween night in Fassaroe in the early 1990s:

puthwuth said...

Are you sure it wasn't me who set the car alight, though? Most excellent.