Issue 4 Cover_final_web Poecology

Issue 4

 

 
 

Arif Gamal

 

Crocodile

 
 
in fact if you were Nubian
you never said the Nile
or ‘river’ even

you said ‘the sea’

we’re going down
to the sea

he went to the sea

she rowed across
the sea

we swam in the sea
even though the many crocodiles were there
limber in the water
glimmering gracefully along the surface
partially submerged with wet
and silky-hided bark-like back
and lifted nostril

and then far behind the nose
beyond the length of jaws
the heavy-lidded
yellow old reptilian eye

would gaze laconically upon the sea
and underneath
where there were many fish to choose from
fish of all colour
pattern ornament
design disguise

that vanished utterly when the free flowing sea
became a static pool
behind the Aswan wall

and then instead of all the flourishing shapely fish
of ravishing colour nourishing flesh
and names yet unfinished
came schistosomiosis
through snail to man
or bilharziosis
through fluke to swelling liver
looking like an advanced pregnancy

but all that happened later
the crocodile now graced the water
prowling among the myriad kinds of fish

although if there were one reptile
so rude and so unruly as to come ashore
and grapple with its jaws a goat
it might find itself in not too long
entirely gutted and set in clay
above the door to guard the house

if he be too unruly
he will find himself set in the clay
among the broken crockery and bits of copper
ornamenting the immensely high façade
beneath the roof