Wednesday, March 23, 2011

that indeterminate hour

A group of stragglers and bums had gathered outside the ramparts of an old fort in ruins. Beyond, one could see the lights of the city, but here, at an indeterminate hour, between dusk and night, several other people joined this group, and lit a fire. He sat near the fire, on the soil of this land, from where Arabic calligraphy was still visible on the broken and fallen columns of this old fort; he was thinking of what the verses might mean, in that chaste Arabic, he thought at that delicate hour between dusk and night. He felt close to the patron saint of stragglers and those who light illegal fires near derelict forts, in this land of many patron saints. The night was on the cusp of dusk, at a very dangerous hour he heard this crowd whisper. And then all of a sudden, she walked across the dusty field and sat next to him, her long brown hair hiding a part of her face, and the sky dazzled with crimson rays, and far on the horizon small clouds fled away from each other, and the hour that was already indeterminate became heavy with melancholy. And he wasn't sure whose heart beats he could hear then, his or hers.

From the group huddled around the fire, a woman rose and began singing a song, as she sang to the rhythm of a flute and a drum, and she sang of a book of separations, and how her lover never came, and she sang of long hair and how her lover never wrote to her, and though the song rose from her lips it passed through his heart, he felt. The singer's hair was black and long, and she sang of long hair and separations, and she lamented that her lover never wrote to her and never came to her, so how was she to spend her nights, she asked. She sang that her eyes were always wet and that she seldom slept, and evenings brought her pain and her bed was lonely and that her lover never wrote and never came to her. The singer with long black hair sang and danced as if possessed, and the sky was black and now past that indeterminate hour, and a dark melancholy hung in the air, as she sang , who will tell her lover that she waits for him and who will transcribe her tale on paper, she asked, as the fire raged in the middle of this strange group of people, as the singer finished her song and she sat down next to the fire, to some applause and some cheers.

The night had passed that indeterminate hour of delicate mystery and he felt as if all the fresh dew that had fallen on the earth near the singer's feet had stopped in his eyes. He looked at the girl with long brown hair sitting next to him, and her eyes were like clear flames in a desert, the singer's song had passed through her heart too, he thought. She was writing with her nails on the earth near her, on soil fresh with dew she wrote and crossed, she wrote and crossed, and he wasn't sure whose heart beats he could hear then, his or hers. This hour was full of surmise, he thought, as such hours always are, and this disparate group of stragglers felt a common destiny at that hour, hour heavy with melancholy and fresh dew. He looked at the girl sitting next to her, and the hour of reckoning seemed bright as a flame, her long brown hair seemed like his destiny, and her finger tips were soiled now and the singer's song had passed through his heart and her heart too. Who was to transcribe his tale on paper, he thought, and who would record her indifference he thought, and her eyes were bright like flames and the hour was filled with surmise and she never came to him and never wrote and the nights were long he thought and who would tell her that he was waiting for her and he seldom slept and the dew was still fresh and the singer had finished her song and the singer's song had passed through his heart and he he wasn't sure whose heart beats he could hear then, his or hers.


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Anonymous said...

gorgeous. lyrical. thanks! reminds me of a lover who died...