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Our Guide to Petra

By Marjorie Thomsen From Issue No. 4

He darts he climbs, comet-like.
My sister and I—flimsy kites in the wind
of him. We watch his hands move
without a map. He’s as impassioned
as a god accompanying souls of the dead.
We sense his need to buoy the divine
or demonic and remain unwearied.
He takes us to arches, tombs, obelisks,
the cave where he was born. Dangling stories
of Jordan—sultans and kings hover above
our covered shoulders, all of us heated
like the desert. He throws the aroma
of lemons, teaches lessons of cliffs
and plateaus, pulls a song from the throat
of his mother’s ghost. My sister sees an
unexpected butterfly, I see a winged lion.
When he draws water from a stone staircase,
we make a canticle of yes—to gliding nightfall,
to dark, dark-apricot earth, to unleashing
our ponytails. We lie down, stretch next to lanterns—
fervent, sand-weighted, tan paper bags lining
the sandstone path. He kneels and begins to pray
for us. O how he prays for us, to remember
him when we get home.

About Marjorie Thomsen More From Issue No. 4