Don't tell a camel about need and want.

Look at the big lips


pursed


in perpetual kiss,


the dangerous lashes


of a born coquette.

The camel is an animal


grateful for less.

It keeps to itself


the hidden spring choked with grass,


the sharpest thorn


on the sweetest stalk.

When a voice was heard crying in the wilderness,

when God spoke


from the burning bush,

the camel was the only animal


to answer back.

Dune on stilts,


     it leans into the long horizon,


bloodhounding

the secret caches of watermelon

brought forth like manna


from the sand.

It will bear no false gods


before it:


     not the trader


who cinches its hump


with rope,


     nor the tourist.

It has a clear sense of its place in the world:

after water and watermelon,


heat and light,


silence and science,

it is the last great hope,

Noah's ark,

Virgin of the oasis


who brings forth milk


under a deadly sky.

Year after year


it follows the bright stars


east, falls to its knees


for the lowliest king.

Except, of course, when the top lip


lifts like a curtain


on a mighty sneer.

Then you may hear,


out of the mouth of that rough beast,


the walls of the wide world


collapse.