by Brandon Marlon (August 2016)
Swart villagers compelled by the magnet of loot
suborn mulish asses during a nighttime jaunt
toward snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas
in a quest to encounter the Berber marabout
reputed to be encaved in a vaulted cavern
hoarding riches amassed from votaries.
At the base of the heights the pack animals,
firm of frame and fine of feature, abruptly resist,
displaying their independent temperament
and an eldritch awareness of the mischief to come.
The villagers forgo all quarrel, snatching up sacs
designated for spoils then clambering over scree,
cadges in search of a doddering codger.
Footsore and wayworn, they discover at last
the remote marabout hunched over a prayer rug,
kowtowing eastward, immersed in muttered verses
and oblivious to their uninvited presence,
unaware as they disperse to comb his subterrane
for lucre rumored to astound the sighted.
The sedate figure stirs as his guests regroup
empty-handed, lorn in their frantic pursuit of pelf.
Seemingly abristle, the marabout cannot help
grin at the predation of scapegraces
credulous and susceptible to hearsay,
succumbing to overheated imagination.
He strokes a tercelet’s pinion with a gentleness
setting the villagers at ease; in a clement tone
he assures them of his scanty assets,
instead beguiling them with a wondrous
store of lore to defy the gloom until
daybreak relieves the stars and prayer’s hour recurs.
Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and has been published in 100+ publications in Canada, U.S.A., England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Romania, Israel, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Trinidad, & Mexico. www.brandonmarlon.com.
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