“A Dress Fit For An Angel”
A kinda true account 🙂
Picked from the ruins of the Holy Land
I took a plane to Ben Gurion.
I was soon savouring the smells and stalls
Wandering the teeming warren of washed stone steps
and ancient alleyways of old Jerusalem.
Allured by handbells and hallelujahs
I tagged on the tail of a serpentine train
Of Christian pilgrims waving palms
Singing psalms praising Jesus’ pain
And bustling hawkers hustling cigarettes and slides
Down along the Via Dolorosa
– I left the ‘train’ at station two.
Taking cardamon coffee at a street cafe
With side dishes of olives, dates and candied nuts
I was joined by a charming Arab, Omar,
Who, by shouts and gesticulation
Shooed away pestilential vendors,
He asked, in passing, if I was Jewish.
Smiled when I replied, innocent, lying,
“Not me, I’m English.”
And handed me a business card.
His ‘cousin’, also Omar, owned Emporia
Stocking, historical artefacts
Guaranteed genuine vintage culture.
He reached across and took my hand,
“Whatever you want. Good price today.
Good deal. Special… Special for English.”
And shepherded me to Beit Habad
A street straight down from Damascus Gate.
“I want something of beauty to take home with me.”
‘Shopkeeper’ Omar nodded, bowed,
Clapped his hands like a master conjurer,
Flourished open a green damask curtain
Revealing a rack of Thob al Malak, “Voila!”
One stole my breathless eye
Lush purple velvet, billowing sleeves
Laced with fine jade filigree threadery.
‘Cafe’ Omar burrowed in a brass stud chest
and brought out a ‘real gold from Zanzibar’
coin festooned shatwah,
“Fit, only for your lovely bride to be
To crown her head on your wedding day”.
‘Emporia’ Omar pitched his price sky high
And waited for my quibbling and haggling.
To his chagrin and ‘Café’s’ confusion
I cost him ‘face’ dearly by paying the ‘asking’.
Omar, proud proprietor of ‘Traditional Emporia’
Recovered his dignity with customary hospitality
Inviting me to sit and drink
A glass of mint tea daily
For the rest of my stay.
There was no shaking of hands when I left town
Omar and I? We kind of respected each other
A gentlemen’s honourable draw.
And what of my darling?
She would be more than worth the extra,
If I ever got to meet her.
That’s a charming tale. I liked the way you included place names to add to the sense of reality this invoked. Without those it might have seemed a little hollow. But as it is it is a meal to be savoured.
It was an actual encounter – curiously enough I was watching a youtube vid – a walk in Jerusalem only yesterday and around 75 minutes in I spotted what I remember to be the actual shop – much changed, as is the old city, but still recognisable – just 🙂 It is of course a sad story of how there is nothing tangible to be gained from the ruin of Israel – only an angelic dress that might never have a wearer and a forlorn entente with a shopkeeper – based from the ‘I’ character’s wilful shaming of the shopkeeper… Read more »