The Corniche, Beirut Lebanon


I like the Corniche at
sunset, at Ramadan,
the day’s heat lifting,
cool breezes flowing
south from Turkey.

I like the seaward ones
who fish toward the night
with impossibly long
poles for tiny flashing
fish and sea debris,
and the swimmers shouting
each to each, intimate
as day does not permit.

But I love those
with backs to the sea,
old men bringing chairs
to the ocean to ignore it
for a game of backgammon,
women in hijab strolling
with sisters in spandex,
the man on one crutch
who sells garlic, the Druze
in black and white and
couples smoking nargilah,
the Palestinian girl,
as thin as spaghetti,
who plays badminton with
her dad over a park bench.
They bring chairs, they put
down roots, their backs to
the dark whispering sea,
they watch the 18 religions,
the 12 kinds of dates and
27 nuts of Lebanon mixing,
flowing, a fattouche of
Arabic and French.
Two guys, well-spaced
in parked cars, play music
that changes as you walk,
and some passersby dance.
I do, and you reading
this, yalla, dance,
dance against the dark.

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