In Taizz the ancient souq is entered
by way of Bab Mousa
the gate of Moses
for there a camel can be left all day
without eliciting parking fees.
In Wagga Wagga you may leave your ride
in the darkest bowels beneath.
Again, no parking fees are paid
or even demanded… a civilised souq, this MarketPlace
and rare, in this manner.
In the grey of morning, the sun not yet risen, John,
or maybe Jason, presses magic buttons
and the souq, our MarketPlace,
stirs and breathes and floods light
on locked and barred emporia.
Footsteps echo in empty passages as Lesley pulls on rubber gloves
sweeps out detritus of previous day, polishes all that should gleam.
Or Irene, if it is her shift.
In Taizz only the wind takes the detritus to the desert
(which is blue with plastic).
At seven, the aroma of coffee percolates throughout the building
covers are removed from the ice-creamery…
the most important purveyors have arrived
providores of life-enhancing substances
without which the daily grind cannot proceed.
In the souq in Marrakech it might be shakshuka that is sought first
or perhaps fasulia breakfast in the early sun.
Though only in the outer souqs is it possible to find free parking
and maybe free grazing
for your camel.
Keepers of keys scurry to their allotted positions
Lights flood, terminals fire up, screens and gates disappear
doors swing wide… and then the wait
for early customers
(though there will be no shortage of these).
pantechnicons and B-doubles
rush supplies to fill the hidden maws
lest, hour by hour, shelves empty and shoppers be denied
their sanctified right… gratification.
One entrance at each compass point
two escalators, and the human tide flows in
and out, unceasing through the day
trolleys overflowing, children perched in seats behind the wares
mothers, harried, bribe their offspring, praying for peace.
lights, one by one, dimmed. Lesley, long day behind her
takes stock, takes note, and continues the cycle that renders, everyday
a sparkle to the scene.
Jason nods farewell to John, keys are turned.
Escalators groan to a standstill
the cavernous labyrinth beneath
emptied now of serried ranks of shining steeds
echoes with the final footsteps of the day…
but still no camels.
© Michel Dignand 2016