Marc Frazier

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The Sheltering Sky

Having finally begun, how does one stop?
- Louise Glück

North Africa

She loves the dunes shape shiftingArtwork by Gene McCormick
around them, the camel’s sway,

sand without cease, the holy, impossible
light.  She bears her husband’s death,

the lack of a vantage point,
the absence of plot in her life.

She has become a traveler
calmed by the erotic nature of being.


The moon waxes and wanes.
Stopped for the night,

fires crackle to light.
The sound of drums and the samsomeja

keeps the camels happy and strong.
The young Bedouin feels her face as it warms.


Returned, he translates her body
in an earthen building secure from his wives.

Whose burnt-orange face he makes love to is unknown.
He is the element she has lacked.

Her journal pages hang about
like washing to dry—words abandoned

like her American life,
like her image of herself.

When she unveils herself to his family.
there is no mystery left.


Adrift in the bazaar, famished, she insults
by throwing money, grabbing.

They eye her like cannibals, unwrap her,
push her to the ground.


There was a former life.
She has not disappeared.

The envoy finds her blank-stared,
covered in designs made with henna.

Back where she and Port had started,
a dutiful woman places her in a taxicab

headed for a safe life in the states.
But she leaves the cab, shuffles through the cafe

filled with news, music, life.
She is reminded of mirrors.

Moves on.
To be lost is to live.


Marc Frazier has been widely published in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, Poet Lore, Rhino, and Connotation Press. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been featured on Verse Daily. His book The Way Here and his chapbooks The Gods of the Grand Resort and After are available on Amazon as well as his second full-length collection titled Each Thing Touches from Glass Lyre Press.