The Message

1 May 2017

The towering blaze of a bonfire, thick as hair, wind-driven,
flared and shone on the bruised Agame coins. The wind,
the coins, the smoky fume woke the messenger
as he drank wine and juggled twelve coins with ten fingers.

He slid his drunken feet, head light as water, he shifted
sand into the winged carpets of Khourri mystics.
And as he fingered the engraved chimera struck
by the Agame minter who’d knurled and hammered under

the lost pillars of Iram, his glass-coloured eyes magnified.
A rumour turned into a secret held between his lips, carried
on his hips, hidden in shoes had crossed worlds of oceans
and deserts. A message was a livelihood worth bread,

manna gum or a dagger, even a coat and a belt.
But a dozen Agame coins brought the Gods to his side.
New wealth had lengthened his neck, swanning him
to the point of oblivion, his heart roasted in the sweet tannin

of brewed grapes, and the rose coloured blood on his tongue
craved more. He tapped the winged-god on his lapel.
At the grey feet of the Sultan he knelt obediently. Her name
spilling from his lips when his forehead kissed soil.

He unsealed the message titled wrath: the wrath of the Lady
is unrivalled by any of the higher-gods; the seers warn
the angels, the gods warn the jinn that caves are turning
into tombs
. The Sultan paid in full. A gut full. The messenger

emptied his pockets while wine and smoke cloistered
his breath. On his coin-freckled palms, he saw:
a herd of camels, topaz amulets, the blue dusk fragrance
of Yathroub, marriage to his Bedouin cousin, a stallion

with the speed of an eagle flying him to the oasis of Bakkah
where merchants from Damasq and Sanhara traded
their frankincense and silk with combs of rare ebony teeth.

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