I felt my father’s hand again on my forehead
and saw my mother’s face like a badge of courage;
all around was barren, the sun pouring its fire
and every foot was bleeding, its sole torn open.
The rocks were naked, parched, the oasis was red -
shrivelled, scattered skeletons lay around its edge,
the horizons were hazy, a cloud of barbed wire,
and time a measured beat, a slow stifled poem.
My mother untied her apron, the winds snapped it up.
The caravan stopped dead like still statues in stone -
they’d come as far as they could, now had to turn back.
My father gave me a drink, the last from his cup
and pointed me due west. So I went on alone.
The sands behind me dribbled and filled in my tracks.