Chief Ag Litue on his camel 

Beard and face covered, nose
straining against green silk, you peer
over camel's extended neck, lunging
rope hung loosely.  We may have married
if we had met before camels
were in vogue.  You pose
on your throne behind the proud
assertion of the camel's hump, wife
to an image.  I want to ride into
the desert, black cape wrapped
around my arms, stupid
inside your easy fabric. 


Andi Ouloulou at home in Agadez

That small wart beside
         your nose resembles
a nipple.  Skin smooth
                        as leather,
 collar bone
a resting place for necklace
of stones, tiny amulets
carved from camel's teeth.  Those bones
a grave,
forehead bare, except where crimson
              scarf around your head meets
taut skin.  The set
             of your mouth and squinting
                    eyes define
                                      your art.


Saidi Ouinba at home in Agadez

Stars crisscross your body.  The hot
desert sun and bleached travelling
shirt  you wear blinds me, white

of your neck, circling
behind a dark pool, your back
a map marking the stone

wall pushing off forehead
and nose, splintered
shadows, light reflecting

from jewels.  I keep hearing
about the Tuarez, the cracked
stone wall.


- Lily Iona MacKenzie