Thursday Poem

The Carpet Merchant

Wary as an animal she sniffs the air
enters the color of wounds, shadows
of crushed aubergine, the cedar dark
where fretted shutters jigsaw the blazing light.

Outside the cries of saffron vendors
fade, the clatter of the bazaar
where fair-haired English teachers
flirt with traders for Turkish delight.

Elegant he sits her on soft cushions
nods to the olive boy to bring her cayi
and limpid apple tea, clicks his fingers
to conduct the symphony of rugs.

which unroll like prayers, The knots
are looped and dropped, he explains,
for perfection belongs to Allah.
He offers her weaves of indigo,

faded of cochineal, where trellises
of butterflies symbolize the transience
of love, and corrugated arcs a nomad's
thirst for waves. he tells her this was

his father's house. How as children
they jumped naked to the sea from the carved
balcony, as he pushes to the shutter,
brushing a cool hand against her white shoulder.

by Sue Hubbard
from Everything Begins with the Skin
Enitharmon Press, 1994