Homo Aromaticus

In the Magreb what exactly is the weight
Of a man’s death in cinnamon?

This street is called is called
The street of the Alchemist
And smells of spice.

Levantine traders (always they)
Bring news of wars
Beyond the burning rim of Libya Deserta.

No one is precise but all are sure
It was a wealthy Copt drowned with his son
Above the second cataract.

The crowd moves beautifully
To usher in the hours of civil trade
In cassia, paprika, ginger,
Cummin and cardamon.

The street of the Alchemist
Traffics in the unchanging
(nutmeg, carraway, piper nigrum)
And in the smells of peace
(cloves and turmeric)
That fill the wakening hours of afternoon
(anniset, mace and fenugreek)
And scent the tramontane
In the evening blowing in.