16 July, 2008

African Coast (Superstition)

The oily tagine slid sluggishly into the couscous like some slick. He roiled it around with his fork as his coffee cooled by the open porthole window. Next to him, a woman in a pink summer dress read an English newspaper, shaking her head. Her husband’s head lolled on his slumbering shoulders.

The boat sailed into Marrakech in red night, with silent sharks cruising through purple waves. White sides floated in the bay as the remaining passengers drifted to the surface in a dream. The captain looked at the huddled men with their balsa plates waiting fervently at the water’s edge with heads bowed and children leaning in laps.

He walked over to the bow with a cigarette. The thick air flooded with Turkish fug as he stood puffing in the early morning light. He heard steady footsteps approaching, and emphasis on the exhale. In Cairo, in Limassol, and in Istanbul, he heard footsteps and exhaling. He waited for a swarthy hand, for those deep ash eyes, with his bag in his bunk and clothes hanging out to sea. He waited, and the answer came out of the air.

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