translation by Sara Al Qatami with Patty Paine

Modernity in the Desert

We talk of many things we don’t understand.
Modernity in the desert! The latest
joke in a world full of jokes.
But this is the desert,
where dust hovers in the air like butterflies
in a graveyard.
Where sand blankets everything—
acacia and palms, the tents
of Bedouins, even camels,
the ships of the dunes.

So little can grow in the desert.

Our palaces scream cutting edge.
Our A/C’s hiss like snakes.
Cell phones! Cybercafes!

But remember, the desert is a fox
dressed like a woman.  end