after a map of the Arabian Peninsula from
Al Idrisi’s Kitab Rujar, 1154
I hardly recognise you, naked & nameless,
a green path, vital as a vein
snaking its way up to ard al iemama.
In early spring, desert thistles
align themselves with the stars,
a trail of crumbs for a camel caravan.
Now the stars have faded,
this land, a plantation of light –
I map the sky with my hands,
with the flick of a thumb,
a blue dot guides me
over concrete hills, concrete fields,
highways always humming.
Rasha Al Duwaisan is a Kuwaiti oral historian living in Dubai. She completed an MA in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and spent a couple of years working at the Natural History Museum in London.
“This poem was written for J.R. Carpenter’s brilliant course, Writing Coastlines. We were asked to pick a coastal map and explore its poetic possibilities. Driving through the city of Dubai everyday, I am struck by the ways urbanisation and technology have affected ancient practices of navigation and how they have come to redefine our relationship with the natural world.”
This is beautiful Rasha, such deft, economical language, subtle and traces beautifully.
Thank you Agnieszka!
Looking forward to hearing more of your work.
This is so beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you so much Gita!