empty, vast, untamable Sahara!
While your waving dunes evoke an ocean rolling
to some unknown shore, a giant nothingness
defines your deadly, desert plains.
From the valleys of the Nile way east
towards the far Atlantic coast, and from
the Atlas Mountains in the north, stretches your immense
domain, encroaching on the dry Sahel and sparse
Sudan savannas further south.
Aided by a scorching sun
and drought, unbearable, your fingers
spread in tongues of streaming fire. Perhaps never
will you return what lands you’ve seized and added
to your arid, desolate realm.
Who knows how many empires
once were trampled here beneath your stride?
You’ve been relentless, and your heat is still a cruel hell,
for even Death is crawling wasted on your parched,
deserted lap . . . alone!
Yet far away some caravans
emerge . . . Slow, like pilgrims from the past, tracking
age-old routes, they come and go across your shifting soil
to find perhaps a short-lived respite, mere mirage,
or steady goal . . .
Saharan sandstorms loom.
Who is wailing, yearning in the desert there and barely
stumbling forward? How long will he stay blinded by
a force unseen where sunlight hasn’t pierced
as yet his soul?
braving horror, loneliness, and death,
a haven lies ahead of you, if not a perfect
paradise, shimmering like some far-off island calling
in a desert sea.
splendid, green and lush oasis!
Beyond the gulfs of thirst in the Sahara, you beam
forever in a trembling drop of hope before the loving,
outspread arms of God . . .
sacred, newfound Paradise;
eternal source of youth and immortality!
One day I knelt before your well, and ages fell away
and sank into the sand.
Precious water, precious life,
gleaming in this fine oasis like some
brilliant diamond encased. The thirst that seemed
unquenchable is quenched at last, and Heaven rests
reflected on your face.
I’ve seen the desert changing
through the years, and as I pause with outspread arms
in my oasis, all the hopeless,
erstwhile nothingness once surrounding my existence
rolls now far away . . .