"Bedouin at an Oasis with Pyramids," David Bates, 1902, WikiArt photo.
“Bedouin at Oasis with Pyramids,” David Bates, 1902, WikiArt.

We have always been desert people, since
Remembering, home of prophets and gods.
Yet to outsiders, deserts were wastelands,
Ages unmoved except by wind and time,
Monuments and towns buried. Sun, heat,
Cold, parched tongues were crucible of
the soul, changing reticent hearts of men,
Those who could not understand or accept
Divine, life’s oasis, clear springs, holy
Guidance across trackless sands.

Such were our beliefs, ancient and secure,
Until lone adolescent girl we found, robes
Of other houses, trespasser to our wells.
Desert-lost, oasis-abandoned, we knew not,
Except without nourishment – tea, dates,
Bread – sands claimed another life. Thus,
Amongst ourselves we debated, decided
To care for stranger of unknown tribes,
Enemies or distant blood-relation, mercies
Offered to nameless one in need.

Dark hair and eyes, for two days, she spoke
Not, shade-tree resting, few bites of food,
Bathing in oasis. Whether she spoke another
Tongue or ignored our questions, she stated
Only her name: Ceylan. This we understood
Until one morn, she took to predawn dunes,
Sunrise prayers. By my raised hand, we did
Not interfere. Lo! We listened to her prayerful
Songs, refrains lifted to heaven’s light by
Transparent wings.

“Who is she?” my fellow travelers asked,
So taken by Ceylan’s voice, soul-restoring,
Water-clear, we, too, took to prayers. For
As we watched, so did all-seeing gods, her
dark-robed figure sunlight-bathed. Later,
As she supped with us, this last oasis day,
She shared, “As trunks of two trees combined,
We are one, body and soul. Rocks, shifting
Sands are fatal spots, unless with open
Heart, we accept guidance from our gods.”

"Egyptian Water Carrier," Jean-Leon Gerome, circa 1882, Wikiart photo.
“Egyptian Water Carrier,” Jean-Leon Gerome, circa 1882, Wikiart.

During evening hours, she gathered stones,
Small oasis altar made. There she prayed,
Songs rising into sunset, starry night, words
We understood, abounding spring, she spoke
Of divine love, life-lessons beyond her years.
When we awoke, campfires smoke-smoldering,
She left in night dark, footprints vanished
Into sand. “Who was she?” My fellow travelers
Asked. “Desert messenger,” I replied. Upon
Her altar we each added stones.

Verses dream-composed, Ceylan was desert-wandering
messenger, seeking out the merciful and god-fearing.
Who were messengers from antiquity?
Do we have modern-day messengers? 

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