Dried Rivers and Marmalade Deep

by Natasha Burge

dried rivers

there is only this

you say

holding out the pistachios

i know they will taste of lemon

and the sweat of your hand

the boys squatting in the alley dirt

knees to elbows

wait to see what I will do

your teeth are chipped and stained

red and oily orange

like the lights from passing cars

that slide between my feet

do you remember

when you pulled me down from a cliffside of dusty carpets

washed in the smell of goat and camel and bumpy mountain roads

and swung me through the streets

in search of cardamom tea

and the man with the folded up smile

pushed a strand of black beads into my fingers

i laughed and demanded more

not yet knowing the ease of an endless home

of saber-edged consonants and back of the throat vowels

but now

and here

there are new streets and wrong signs

and voices that have passed into other days

it is salah

the call to prayer sifts down from the draining sky

the shops are closed

cigarette smoke diesel garlic

press into me

and I am fumigated

existing in too many places at once

already seasick with predictable loss

and I find I can only remember

this time

this place

because of the creases in your hands

that hold the shells

like dried rivers

waiting for rain

marmalade deep

your lip

tangerine segment of flesh

orbiting slivers of sugared almonds

swings words among stars

they fall to earth

along the thumbprints of her spine

dragging coconut milk tins

and tissue paper wrapping

along the gutters and spires

and forgotten lives between


your legs

twisting cathedrals

striding from canopy

to undergrowth

gone are the folded papers

that sprung

like earlobes from your pocket

with their soft sprays

of night blooming jasmine


your words

bulbous and rough

and the wild sweetness

of melon among vines

floods your mouth

and drops split seeds

in your wake


your palms

turned upward

to capture the fading light

of a foreign sun

and spread it

marmalade deep

along the crenellations

of her ribs




and always


Natasha Burge is a writer with ink-stained fingers, a tumbleweed heart, and one foot permanently planted in other worlds. She currently lives and works in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Contact her at http://www.natashaburge.com/


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