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Toward the Holy City

Oarsmen The chain is heavy and the heart’s route is long. Mariner The ship is waiting to leap towards the horizon. People O Rose of Allah, we are loath to see you depart. Warriors You are the steady beating in our hearts. Women We greet you with the day’s tears of departure. Priests We bless your ship as it prepares for Mecca. Slaves We unfurl before you a rainbow of prayer-tapis. Shepherds We cascade flowers from fields where your dew is. Elders We offer the olive branch of Allah’s will. Poor We say your right hand’s bread and the left is milk. Nomads Your name is clear fresh water from the oasis. Merchants Your name’s the scales where perfect balance is. Children Your name is always Mamma: kind and lovely. Mariner The ship’s now ready: filled with sugar and honey.

On the Winged Ship

Laïïleh Time passes and days are the same in the balm of the double sky: the storm has clipped our wings. Pilgrims But we felt more alive than in this calm! Laïïleh Tell me, in which direction are we sailing? Mariner A huge wave took the needle in its case and I can’t say precisely where we are. Laïïleh Is your judgement not an honest compass? Mariner The ship tossed like an orange and the stars for many nights have veiled their guiding eyes. Laïïleh The pilgrims tire: they are hungry and thirsty. In truth our ship must be a distant cry from land for you to be so miserly with rations. Were they also snatched by waves? Mariner And I regret that our pilgrims are not brave.

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