by Lourdes A. Gautier

Like something out of Lawrence of Arabia we traveled across sand      dunes, Jeeps jostled
No roads, just mountains of sand.
The driver slipped in a CD of appropriate music so we were in a desert      movie of our own making.
If I had dreamed this up, it couldn’t be more perfect.
Lost in the Sahara I found the genesis of my existence.

Like something out of the English Patient we settled in tents where we      would sleep for the night.
But first there would be drinking, eating and dancing in the communal      tent.
As we stepped outside to see the fire pit and looked up at a sky lit
with millions of stars so close, we reached up to touch them
and thought that thousands have licked the icy coolness of star dust      from their fingers.

Like something out of my imagination of what North Africa would be
Drums beating in the still desert night
Flames stretched up to the inky star-studded sky.
Men in turbans and djellabas forgot that we are not Muslim women and      men,
as we all danced to the primal beat of the drums.

Like something in a Monet painting dawn brought colors
A million shades of pink, blue, orange and yellow hovering over the pale      sand
While I sat on a dune waiting for the sun to appear
Two men wrapped in the cloths of Berber semi-nomads
Kept me safe while the quiet drama of the sunrise unfolded before me.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author with Hisham, a Berber guide, in Morocco (ca. 2005).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Of all the places I’ve visited, the most transformative trip was to Morocco. Camping in the Sahara in a tent was a gift to my soul. It was at once a magical experience as nothing beats staring at the stars in the desert and also humbling to be welcomed by people who had so little in the way of material wealth but were so rich in the intangibles that really matter. What an honor to visit such a beautiful country and meet some of the warmest people I’ve ever met while traveling!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lourdes A. Gautier is a poet and writer of short fiction and non-fiction. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and raised in New York City she earned a Masters degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. Taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University. Most recently published a short story, “1952,” in the May issue of Acentos Review. Her poem “Alien” appeared in the Silver Birch Press All About My Name series in July 2015. Currently an administrator at Columbia University, she is working on a collection of poems and stories.