Where the Sea Meets the Desert

by
April 2003, no. 250

Where the Sea Meets the Desert

by
April 2003, no. 250

Antony and Cleopatra swam at Mersa Matruh
In the clear blue shallows.
Imagine the clean sand, the absence of litter —
No plastic bottles or scraps of styrofoam packing,
No jetsam at all except the occasional corpse
Of a used slave tossed off a galley —
And the shrieks of the dancing Queen as the hero splashed her
While her cheer-squad of ladies-in-waiting giggled on cue,
The eunuchs holding the towels.
With salt in her eyes did she wrinkle the perfect nose
Of which Pascal would later venture the opinion
That had it been shorter (he didn’t say by how much)
History would have been different?
They were probably both naked. What a servant saw
Did not count. They might even have boffed each other
Right there at the water’s edge like a pair of dolphins
Washed up in the middle of a mad affair,
With her unable to believe the big lunk would ever
Walk away from this, and him in his soul
Fighting to forget that this was R&R
And there was still the war.

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