The sand hangs in a suspended glaze in Abu Dhabi:
a silicon horizon, washing down the sky in glaring white.
Moted in it, the falcons spiral on dune thermals
and salt thermals, and circling higher, the 737s scrape north.
The finches pour from their cracked-render nests and
secret daubs and dodge amongst the Germans and the British
scorching on their towels by the pool. Australians here too:
embarrassingly drunk, loudly base and puking. I realise
you should be here too. In a beer clarity which
dials down the itinerant Jazz Club musicians, the dancing
Jordanian sisters, the airline hostesses on their furloughs,
swimming in screamingly funny cocktails: Bullfrogs and Whisky Sours.
The profundity and definiteness of a Heineken: you should be here.
We could watch the golf carts chase each other on the fairways.
We could wonder about the beauty slotted through a niqab
or briefly hennaed and elegantly painted past the hem of a hijab.
You’d hate this lifestyle, and Dubai’s crass immensities
of designer malls and indoor ski-slopes would bore you but
the sand hangs here, love, or sweeps listlessly across the highways.
The mosques are spot-lit green at night, like spaceships, and the oasis
expands under the benign vision of Our Father Zayed whose
12 metre high poster still stands outside the Hilton, watching
the palm-lined roads slicing up the desert, and clearing out the
camels to traditional homesteads. and the deer to the soccer courts
of the defence bases, stocked by a year’s compulsory service, and oil.
Poor apparitions and tasteless copies: these waitresses and cleaners,
eastern European call-girls on the arms of sweaty businessmen.
I’m sending the real you short-emails while you sleep, so you can send me
answers while I am. There’ll be a fog tomorrow and crashes in the Corniche.
By lunchtime, hordes of Pakistanis will rappel precariously
over the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab, and bless the sand away
with squeegees and squeeze out this country’s water on the useless
grass at the airport; armies of Indian workers will collapse
on the edge of Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed road, in their own
prostrate prayer to exhaustion. You should see this, my love:
the sand blankets them and the Mullahs call them tottering to prayer.
I will bring you home a pinch of salt in my gut, pickling with
the Meze, the Baklava and the Loukoumades, curdling with
the camel milk. I will bring you home a stolen peck of
sand in my pocket, or in my shoe, since you could not be here.
Sand, in the one last blazing glimpse of the marbled Sheik Zayed Mosque.
You should be here: where sand has blown over a thousand years,
forming glass and diamonds, pearls and marble and weeping grit.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones