Where new writing finds its voice

Felucca Night

Anna Meryt

Softly the old boat thudded to the shore 
– a starlit beach – an island on the Nile. 
our boat nearby – single-masted, white-sailed swan.

The old boat was no swan, more a battered albatross. 
the turbanned, long-robed group leapt quickly down and 
soon, a twig-fire glowed – small glasses of hot chai 
were passed around, together with  
a makeshift hookah – an old tin can and reed straw.

Sitting apart was a boy who played 
a tune so haunting on his ‘flute’ –
a metal tube, with holes cut in; 
he played to the night 
crowded out, with brilliant stars.

Far away a dog barked, a mullah called to Allah 
and from the boat close by we were observers of this scene –
Juliette and I, until on impulse we jumped down and 
entered the sacred circle of camp fire light.

We drank their chai and begged the flute player 
to play on and on, until he had no breath left, 
his reedy, dreamy melody floating in to the smoky night.

Laughing and chatting the company paid scant heed 
to these western women, 
dropped in from another universe 
of cities and pollution.

All at once they stood and doused the fire 
leapt on their silent gliding boat 
quickly fading into the eternal dark 
leaving floating in the sultry night 
a scent of oily wood smoke 
and a faint and lonely melody 
in my remembering.