The wind whispers in the tamaracks
As I wash myself in the Sahara night,
Two liters of water in a plastic bowl,
A privilege I am not accustomed to these days.

In the dark,
My pale blue soap dish signals its place upon the sand
As I hold my toothbrush between my teeth
And the whispered breeze of tamaracks
Dries me in the desert night.

Over there, near the truck,
Frank and Birgit move toward one another
beneath an October moon, now hidden by the clouds.

Over there, near the truck,
Sick Alene, retching beneath the same hidden moon,
moves under her blanket, as Ross' arms move to comfort those dry sobs.

Near the well,
still Pimpernell,
Ken washes down
as Judy and Maggie ask for their two liters from Rod,
who is tired now,
but pours out that measured grace.

Eva lies alone with her headache
inside a purple down cocon,
and for an instant, Lou,
alone in his, raises himselfon one arm to survey his trek,
gathered on an African desert
as they each move to find their space of quiet night.

Over there, on my left,
beyond the tamarack's soft sighs,
lies a mountain of pure grey slate;
earlier, a blue-robed Taureg hurried with his camel inside a cave within those shafts and slabs of slate.

Then, that quick,
they disappeared - gone, gone,
except , and oh!, what an exception,
the camel roared back at us;
camel sounds so loud, So hidden,
a dragon might have waited for us there.

armpits too,
the works,
ending with a one foot,
other foot footbath
before I send my own Sahara sand and dust
sloshing into the roots of a whispering tree.

I had watched a Tuareg;
was he watching me?

By the Tuareg Mountains,
Algeria, 1976

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