In his city by the restless Nile,
dust seeps, like a nosy ghost,
through open windows
underneath the door frame
past the veils over his daughters' faces,
out grocery shopping at midnight
with other veil-clad women,
avoiding Cairo's relentless daytime heat.

He closes his eyes, leans back
against the couch, laptop on knees,
briefly recalls that long-ago dream
of coming to America one day.
Away from choking dust storms.
Away from devalued Egyptian Piastres.
Away from so much corruption...noise.

Coming to see her, too,
this American woman who, like this
ubiquitous dust, filled him with longings
he can't or won't put a name to.

He no longer reads her poems aloud,
translating them to his native tongue,
or accidentally calls the family cat
by her name--it's too painful.
He no longer thinks of second wives
or second chances, for that matter,
until yesterday, when a flash of blond
on the sidewalk, an American accent
brought fleeting memories and his heart
still thuds against his chest this evening.

He rubs his eyes, sits up,
slowly pushes her back into the closet
of his mind where impractical things go.

Tomorrow, he tells himself,
the dust storm will be over.
Tomorrow he will be quite himself again.


Pris Campbell

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