Empty Quarter

Empty Quarter

On the eight hour lorry ride from El Fashir to Nyala, perched
on potato sacks, I am stripped of the constant bickering

of billboards and their one-upmanship of car, liquor,
sportswear, over and over. There are no other drivers

to tailgate, overtake, undertake, argue the noisy toss
with at red lights; no horns screaming at amber;

no beep of warnings to wait, walk now, wait.
The road unrolls its parched tongue, scoured clean

of red brick terraces, net curtains bunched into fists
for a better gawp at the neighbours. All distractions swept

off the earth’s table-top: the only interruptions
a shaved hill swelling from the pebbledash desert,

a camel on the horizon, paddling sand. An ochre moon
advertises itself against indigo night. I can hear the breath of stars.

Illustration: MJ © All Rights Reserved