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The Burning of Cairo

by Nadeen Shaker

The fire drags on; the air sits low, perspiring as atom embarks on atom, and barbarity climbs. High up, at the ridged city: Citadel. Losing breath, and suddenly, there is firing across the River Nile.

The burn blazes. The million textured streets: only one, two are circumscribed, in a fit, form a concocted trellis. The fire chases all, but drags on. Legions, made up of: boys, girls, Christians, and Muslims hug together in the Cairene parts that still breathe; each a bead in a rosary of hope, truth.

And smothering home tears. We behold in our deep sleep, smitten black and ochre flying paper fragments, and swelter artichoke-like, singed sweat. In our gargling voices, we screech freedom with our acid lungs. In our street fights, army tanks and dozers by the dozens, blood of ginger stink—long-sliced and quarter-cut.

A pause.

The flames crackle and burst! Lust moves around, hounds for power, for the chair, for money, for virginities inspected and lost, for the state marriage, for the political mosh pit, for you, for the worker, for the weak link, for her, for Cairo.

But when she opens her lids, little by little, and awakes: there is a blur of light and the fire drags on.

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