We came prepared:
Our heads are anointed, our tunics are spotless, our blades sing the praises of river stones.
As we pace up and down the riverbank, we partake in the mystification of seagulls:
the rumbling from afar we heard, but who could have warned us about the oncoming dispensation?
We learned the way to the furthermost bulrush by heart before we buried our needles in last night’s ashes
and when we heard the footfalls of an enraged jaguar we knew how to make our snares look like the crowns of pineapples.
But overhead, we only chart the banners of the electric shepherd, his sequestered fury:
no ruby armories “despairing with riches,” no heroines plummeting to the freedom of martyrs — and the youngest among us are beginning to entertain doubts:
Have we arrived too late?
We came prepared. In our granite bowls our faces pass for minerals. Our fingers are trained and nimble, delicate as the antenna of grasshoppers, capable of casting our fluorescent nets deep into the marsh:
and the fortunes foretold by the infallible hermit?
Any moment now, the demoness will blast through the clouds like a revelation from an unparted caftan: a matriarch of alabaster such as our eyes have never seen!
But the sun must have unfurled her coffers long before the clouds reverted to steel,
otherwise the feast would be radiating upon our unsheltered heads as we etch the names of generations upon her footstool.
Imperishable nurse, overturn the verdict of the elements.
Our youngest are full of doubt.
We came prepared.
[Hamad Al-Rayes is a writer and translator from Bahrain, currently residing in New Orleans. His research, translations, short stories, and poems have been published in a number of Arabic and English imprints, including ANTIGRAVITY, Michigan Quarterly Review, Translation Review, and Mizna.]