No sweeter air than the breeze that brushes the ankles
of the Lebanese women in their shift dresses and kitten

heels as they walk the corniche in the well-heeled
Raouche district. Even the sun is reluctant to leave

lingering on the bare arms of couples, a prelude to the
coming caress of a Beirut night: the smell of hot za’atar

always in the air, and the soughing of the Mediterranean,
always the water, flatter than an eye of unwinking turquoise

constant as the voice of Fairuz whose voice is wed
to the city and the people. Her music drifts out of cafes

spreads a lithe body of oud strings and croon across the
discotheques and lidos, in the debkiyaat of the wedding halls

where brides gift their loved ones with the sugared almonds
made fashionable in France. Come the weekend, the city

vacates to Tyre where the small body of the murex
gave the Patricians the color purple, and the Phoenicians

an empire so small and bright it was mistaken for
a mote of light tangled in the eyelashes of a century.