the balcony of room nine one four,
tiled floor, faded damask covered chairs.
Past the barely moving Nile. Banks
lined with a flotilla of scruffy Shangri-la’s.
Lies Midan Kit-Kãt.
with broken down two-tiered fountain,
protected by a rusty wrought iron fence.
Traffic converges, to a sound track of horns.
We say a pray, cross with the locals.
Walk purposely between crowded buses,
plodding carts and twentieth century cars.
stalls defined by Coca Cola vending machines
line the cracked concrete pavement.
Shopkeepers hold court behind confectionery
laden counters. Stretched under a finely fronded
shade tree, a large carpet rug. A man in western
dress, sips tea waiting for the call to pray.
The heat sears
we seek shade from a building, water from an
archaic air conditioner drips down my back.
I photograph a tagged utilitarian housing block,
try to compress Islamic street art to digital.
Bold red and black calligraphy less about graffiti,
more about the Koran.
Around the corner,
down a dirt alleyway we discover a market.
A woman wearing the hjab sits beneath a rickety striped
umbrella shades red and green vegetables.
A man dressed in a galabiyya hovers over a sack
of turmeric and a barrel of garlic. Another unloads
a cart of produce, drawn by a bent over donkey.
Beyond Midan Kit-Kãt
we venture, deep into the market.
Above us washing hangs from suspended
lines. We pass women clad in the burka, they
stare at my blue eyes and light brown hair.
I long for room nine one four.