Courtyard Goddess

by | Feb 8, 2019 | Issue Seven, Poetry

The doorman kept tabs for any hint of illicit love.

His apartment was the cracked open door by the stairs. Twice now, the military had rung the doorbell which played chimes to the sound of London Bridge falling down, falling down, and twice, the apartment caretaker, Adel, had vouched for us; explained the suspicious away, prevented our arrest. Often, I rode the elevator with men and prostitutes but they were Egyptian or Arab or those who paid the doorman off, accordingly.

These were summer apartments; few of us stayed year round, mostly men without their wives. The phone rang at all hours and when I picked up, my hello was greeted with a hangup or a snicker and then a click.

I knew the sunrise intimately.

The sound of the typewriter against the ocean breaking, the length of time in a cigarette or cup of tea. The changeover from music videos to French porn that I often left on to feel less alone. How the Thursday night American movie started nineish.

Omar prayed with the call from the minarets down the long stretch of hall.

My Catholic kept lapsed on the balcony. Omar took his coffee, la sukar. Adel served mine sweet. One clock on the wall set to December 1941, Casablanca. A second set to the time in New York

In the third month, a sinkhole opened in the courtyard of the apartment complex of the Mustafa Kamel district in Alexandria where we lived. Adel and the doormen were looking up, where a concrete adornment had fallen and hit the ground but did not stop. Malish, Adel said, when pressed on the subject of repairing the building. A buried Roman temple unearthed beneath. The air was thick.

A mostly-intact statue of Venus adorned where once the walk had been.

Egyptian boys held hands and strolled the corniche. Wealthy elites married on the water. Foreign men and local women could only watch and yearn. Just before the sun rose, the doorman spied an Italian mason and one fair, possibly Muslim, lady leaving our apartment by the stairs. Third time this week.

Read more Issue Seven | Poetry

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