Alima Sherman: "Khartoum"




Men in fatigues searched our room.

Their machine guns rode on their hips,

like infants, pulling their weight to balance

the prize. They swung them toward the open windows,

to the unmade bed, to the unhinged closet doors,

to us—standing in our thin cotton nightshirts.

A sour smell of sweat informed the walls.

Outside the streets were empty—waiting.

We heard the adhan spill from the rooftops,

past the tanks, down into dark grated graves.

The gardenias stopped blooming weeks ago,

their withered petals, small mounds where boots

crushed them into steamy asphalt. A white horse

in full gallop moved down the abandoned city street,

weaving between the armories, then disappeared.

The Blue Nile remained silent, birds hunkered down,

folded their heads under wing, only prayer beads

could be heard in their unremitting orbs.



Alima Sherman has had three chapbooks published.