Issue 43.1 Summer/Fall 2022

Flying an Ancient Rug from Tangier


What if finding manna is the prelude

to losing everything else?


Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha—

morning, midday, afternoon, sunset, nighttime.


Five times through the hours, my father prays.

His back is bad, yet still, he kneels on his sajjāda toward Mecca.


Q. Any religious preferences, Sir?—the visiting nurse asks my father.

A. I could eat anything—the leg, the goat, the whole thing.


From my cousin, Mesalik, I borrow a hijab, or is it an hijab?—because

Mesalik looks like me, how could she not? We sit here dreaming of animals.


And we share our granny’s name, Mesalik, and gambol

in tempo to Granny’s woodchucks chomping for baba ghanoush.


The tall grasses we name for our handsome country neighbors,

but we curious—could farmer boys have smooth hands?


Those Western lessons, we root and rhubarb, drawing in circles—

tilting, spinning, planets dissolving into our ears and eyes.


Still, five times through the hours our foreheads touch ground

 buzz such futz from our brains. Five times, even the history


of libraries, of museums—their golly gee willikers work

vanishes in fog. Or maybe the entire galaxy deserts us, including ourselves.


But what if the prelude is just a prelude? Anything lost simply becomes

anything else—manna lifting us as light can do, rivers even. Or maybe Granny


tempts sun, sky, teases beehive hair and we rev-up—the three Mesaliks

on Granny’s ancient rug from Tangier. We like saying Tangier, or is it Tangiers?




Photo by Juli Kosolapova