I take this cigarette in my fingers; move it.
The scent of Turkish tobacco seduces my nostrils
Or is it Egyptian? Oval stick of dissolute pleasure.
An errant loop of smoke escapes and coils
Around my hand then dissipates into the heavy air.
Undulating spirals wrapped within a filament of haze;
In water blue and pearl grey whirls; gossamer lotus shapes,
Substantial and elusive as my thoughts.
I set pure thought about it, the coils of smoke
Ensnare my brain. Till I feel there is the splendour
Of an oriental room behind me.
Couches; tiled floors; ancient ceramics;
Jewel coloured cushions, soft leather lined with silk;
Crumbling facades; moist stucco;
Water stains describing sepia maps of antique lands.
North Africa invades my room insidiously.
A gecko near the cornice slowly turns his eye towards me;
Green, grey, yellow, velvet skin; silent; still.
Turns his amethyst eye in my direction,
Slowly lifts one foot; leaves it suspended in midair.
Caught in his reverie. He turns away from me.
Mists of thought surround me and into dim light comes sherbet.
And coffee. A burnished tray; a steaming pot, pistache; sweetmeats;
A dark eyed youth with lustrous lids; kohl lined eyes
Bends near; a brazen steaming pot no larger than a dove’s breast.
The boy bends near to pour dark liquid in a tiny cup;
His hair, his slender, dark and supple fingers
Exude a musk transporting me beyond my familiar state.
The pungent smell of coffee and his pervading scent
Conflict and harmonise in dissolute argument.
My shoulder feels the fleeting pressure of his sleeve;
A houri’s breath; the shadow of a touch.
My shoulder feels the momentary pressure of his hand;
His eyes lift not a second from his task;
The skin beside his full red lips creases momentarily
Yet not a word; nor glance. He moves away.
I feel my temples throb; a bird flies in my throat.
With not a word, he moved away; no glance; no word.
The slightest rasp of fine sugar from rahat loukhoum;
The rattle of a hookah; hot mint tea; honeyed almonds.
A cornucopia of decadent delights gently assail my senses.
Crepuscular pleasures in a silent room.
Softly blended with the ancient symbols
Of this religion of the Star and of the Crescent.