Reply from the Women of Tangier
after Brett Whiteley’s The Majestic Hotel, Tangier (1967)
So secretly together do we wear
our separateness, we’re so complete
he gives us the white stare.
Easy to see decay and disrepair
in the spittle and hashish-ruined streets.
But secretly together we all wear
our place and time, our rightness here,
our journey from antiquity.
He gives us the white stare
and calls us names: the Olive Mafia.
We hold our desert gaze, defeat
his envy, and secretly together bare
our hennaed hands, our loosened hair,
our thighs for marriage rites, our feet.
He gives us the white stare,
but cannot penetrate the haze, can’t bear
our vapour-of-midnight eyes, our heat.
So secretly together do we share
ourselves, he gives us the white stare.