A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Nigel Holt

has lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates for a number of years. He has been most recently published in The Raintown Review, The Recusant, and Snakeskin magazines.

He is the editor of The Shit Creek Review.

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Where I was born, I know; Allah Aa’lim,
when. I remember all there was, was pearls:
three months at sea; a bed on shells, and oakum
the Sayb ravelled on the deck in curls.
From after Fajr until the Maghrib’s throes
we diveddates and coffee all we had.
With weights on the feet, fataam on the nose,
a diyyin round the neck brought from Baghdad
for the shells; we dived ten yards before we rose.

At night I sang, or when the breeze had died;
I sang the pearls out of the evening’s dark,
waiting for the moment when the sirdal cried;
then flags would rise and we could journey back;
It felt like ’Eid! At last to disembark
with sugar, rice and tea in every sack!