Egyptian Mafia

December 18, 2007

When we got off the plane
the tour guide said:
“when we go through these doors
you will be met

by our Egyptian Mafia”

By which he meant
a number of people trying to live
by collecting the money
for carrying suitcases.

He said –
“Hold onto your bags.
and don’t let them go
whatever happens, say no.”

Later that week,
arriving at Karnak,
we were met by a man
in a white shirt and jeans.

The pale vein
had cut cross his eye,
sliced down his cheek,
on it’s way to his chin.

He said:“Whatever you want-
I’ll get it for you”

When we asked where the loos were
he showed us his home

down past the stalls
with pashminas and hats
into a room
where 12 people crammed,

a pregnant woman,
her children, himself
no light – and a toilet –
a hole in the ground.

Towards the end,
we found the market
following the Nile
to buy our soap

There were numerous sachets –
for cleaning up stains, one
was translated from Arabic –
‘for removal of blood.’

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