Poetry at Sangam



ARABIAN KNIGHT by Manuel Ulacia

(Translated from the Spanish by Indran Amirthanayagam.)

to Milos Savak

Mountains, olive trees,
vegetable fields in the valley,
the high ochre walls
of the Royal Palace in the old city,
the night breeze,
the muezzin’s voice, faraway, monotonous,
the usual cafĂ© and its parishioners…

Sitting on the terrace
of the garden of El Haboul, in Meknes,
a dark youth
wearing a white djellaba,
after a long while,
after drinking the mint tea he had ordered,
approached you to learn from where you came…
And while he told you
the history of that place,
he peeled a ripe fig
with a knife he drew suddenly.
The reflection of the street lamp on the blade
touched your face: three drops of milk
spilled on his fingers.
When he noticed your gaze, his pupils
dilated like a tiger’s.
Then he divided the fig–
a flowering filled with seeds
that seemed to burn in the vault of the night–
and immediately he put
one half in your mouth
and the other, with an agile flick, in his own.
What pleasure in tasting the fruit.
What vertigo on the edge of the hour.
Blood thickened,
the senses opened up to another time.
Suddenly you felt his slipper
touch your foot. And without a word
you went with him through the streets of the old city.