Our host, guided by childhood-home internal satnav,
strides off down dim tracks, uses mobile as makeshift torch for
as we stumble behind, me gripping your hand.
Our progress is sporadic as he has village acquaintance with
I am holding my breath to first contact with flanking Sahara
until we suddenly veer off track, You’re on the desert now;
tears again at finding myself in this place once
confined to documentaries and books
Soon learn it is less Lawrence of Arabia than day drip
in unsuitable shoes that let in sand and rub feet.
We puff up dunes towards stocky Sakkara pyramid.
Reach the watchman’s shelter, scarecrow weeds slapping in the
Through gloom just make out elderly man who gestures us to
We will have tea. Russian roulette with my stomach again
as he pours water from jerry can into tin over camp fire.
Smiles and nods exchanged as we praise ruby coloured infusion
served in shot small glasses. Sipping and staring down
as lights map nocturnal Cairo, Adhams call like night birds.
Behind us the old man begins to murmur his own devotions.
We keep our backs turned as if he had suddenly started peeing.
I wonder if he ever feels lonely on his 12-hour sentinel shifts
at this modest pyramid overshadowed by the gob-smackers at Giza.
He rummages amongst belongings, I expect a transistor,
get a semi- automatic placed into my hands, government issue to
My reaction is not girly shriek but bellowed laughter that sets
the men off.
Battered as a child’s toy, its weight contradicts casual toting
I carefully hand the gun back like a wild animal I have been
allowed to hold.
Scrambling back down dunes we pass an elderly man donkey
taking the surest route up to spend the evening with his friend.
Our definitions of loneliness clearly lost in translation.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Fiona Sinclair
would be pleased to hear them.