PQR: Poems, Quotes, Readings

Mahbouda Zaidi's Hands

by Sarah Maguire

slip into mine. She leans me again
a smooth, cool pillar
and takes my waist in her arm.

Her hair is in my eyes. Her dry brow against
my lips. We have walked at midnight
along slim paths of plaited stone,

leaving the streetlights for darkness.
The other tourists are asleep. The Sicilians are dreaming.
My palm traces the muscles of walls

softened by a millenium of palms and shoulders.
Her hip presses into my hip. Her spine is under
my fingers. She leads me through Erice

to the Castello de Vénere. I want to tell her
that Daedalus came here, bringing a honeycomb
of gold for Aphrodite, honouring her shrine,

but there is nothing between us save broken
Italian, schoolgirl French, I understand
how she will come here at dusk

and lean out into the still, aromatic air, searching
for Africa, for a glimpse of the rim of her home:
a dim glaucous haze sixty miles distant,

a continent away. Tonight there is nothing but blackness
and stars. Later she will lead me back to the hotel
and slip in through the back. Rosa

the owner calls, asking where she has been.
They have changed her name. Hush, she whispers,
It's far too complex.

Maguire, Sarah. "Mahbouda Zaidi's Hands." The Invisible Mender. London: Cape Poetry, (c) 1997, p. 10. Learn more about Sarah Maguire at British Council: Contemporary Writers: Sarah Maguire and at the Poetry Translation Centre, of which she is the founder and director.

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Last Update: March 5, 2007