8 september 2008

In Cordoba

step into a new pair of shoes.
There, your footprints in the azure
stretching over Andalusia!
Go softly through its lanes.
The city melts in the mouth
like candy floss.
What remains is relict.

The Guadalquivir divides here less
from the force of water - the riparian
rites of the Berbers not forgotten -
than the leathersmell flowing
from one end to the beginning;
man-smell, skin-smell,
the smell of conquest and vanquishing;
the almond blossoms on trees nodding
to the south wind.

History abuts here again
to its own explanations;
the Alcazar's Roman bridge,
the river meandering across
the fields of cotton, corn and barley
to the Atlantic Ocean;
new electrical fittings, of course,
and chapters of endless olives.

Outside the lichened Arabic walls
Averroes waits,
while the city's angels take new language courses
and operate the official grapevine.
But you haven't walked out of it yet -
a white handkerchief across the city's face.

Near La Mesqita
and let heaven's music fill in for light -
turn the shadows in the nave
back to the rows, people.
So you will not avert
the breezes from the Yemen
or your silent prayer
through this watchful arch of time
(to a God who will bless
without design, not convert).

Alamgir Hashmi