Poem: Oh Cairo, Chapter 2

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Grapevine and Date Palm at Dawn

Chapter 2
Waking up, I rise from my bed
And tiptoe to my window
I fill my eyes with the sight of green
In all degrees of saturation
From the palest, lightest, luminescent leaf
To fronds of silhouetted palm
Elegantly backlit by the dawn
Oh, Allah, Alhamdulillah
I have awakened into a dream
Unable to move, unable to breathe
Without first whispering to You my thanks
Without seeing Your Glory and singing Your Praise
Without recognizing Your Mercy and Grace
For delivering me into Egypt
The leaves of potatoes sparkle with dew
Planted in the orchard of peaches
Thickly like children playing at the feet
Of their mothers in straight lines for praying
Row after row of peach trees in flower
Their pink petals move like lips whispering in prayer
Their branches raised in salute and takbir
The fields of the farmers brightly cover the land
Like squares of a green-checkered blanket
Of wheat, romaine lettuce, and spicy gargir,
Cauliflower and cabbages and clover
Evergreen citrus trees generously laden
With oranges, nectarines and lemons,
And date palms swaying in stately columns

The disc of the sun seems to kiss the horizon
Soft red rays race to view the new day
Bright white billows blush in her warm embrace
The breeze feels fresh and the air smells clean
The countryside wakes to the birds in the trees
Peeping and cheeping in chirping chatter
Greeting one another
“Sabah al Khair,” chirps a male to his brother
“Sabah an-Noor,” he replies
“Wake up to the Good, and the bright morning Light,”
Their sister translates their chirping
“Sabah al Fool,” she continues,
“Can anyone guess what that means?”
She peeps without waiting their reply,
“It means, “Wake up to the Beans!””
Her brother peeps louder, “No, it’s a flower!”
“Every day for breakfast, Egyptians eat beans,”
She peeps, chirping back even louder
“That’s very nice,” twitters their mother
“Sabah ad-Deedan!” replies their father,
“Wa Kawak’a, wa Dash Dora –
“Wake up to worms, and to snails, and cracked corn!”
The trees are bursting with happy chirping
Shortly joined by clinging and clanging
And the sight of a farmer riding a mule
Pulling behind it a strange looking thing
Rickety with age and blackened with use
Mounted on old metal wheels from a cart
Lurching and bouncing, loudly announcing
The watering machine’s approach
Men and women and water buffalo
Patiently trod the dirt road
In the footsteps of our eldest forefathers
In the never ending ebb and flow
From home to work, from work to home
From hot to cold, from young to old
From babe in the belly, to our place in the grave
“There are some things that never change,”
My husband says softly, standing beside me
Gazing outside while reading my mind
I wonder how come I didn’t notice him there
“Sabah al Khair,” I whisper in his ear
He replies, “Sabah al Love,
Wa kisses, wa hugs!”
And I blush in his warm embrace.
© 04/11/2012 Aisha Abdelhamid

Click Here If You Missed Chapter 1 of “Oh Cairo”

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Early Morning on the Nile Delta Farmland

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