Alexandria, 1953

by Gregory Djanikian

You could think of sunlight
Glancing off the minarets,
You could think of guavas and figs
And the whole marketplace filled
With the sumptuous din of haggling,
But you could not think of Alexandria
Without the sea, or the sea,
Turquoise and shimmering, without
The white city rising before it.

Even on the back streets
You could feel it on your skin,
You could smell it in the aroma
Of dark coffee, spiced meat.

You looked at the sea and you heard
The wail of an Arab woman singing or praying.

If, as I can now, you could point
To the North Atlantic, swollen
And dark as it often is, you might say,
"Here lies Wrath," or "Truly God is great."
You could season a Puritan soul by it.

But you could fall into the Mediterranean
As though you were falling into a blue dream,
Gauzy, half unreal for its loveliness.
It was deceptively calm and luxurious.
At Stanley Bay, you could float
On your back and watch the evening sun
Color the city a faint rose.
You could drown, it was said,
Almost without knowing it.

please note: photo by Declan McCullagh


  1. Lovely poem. Welcome back, you were missed.

  2. Love this poem about this beautiful city. I've had the fortune of visiting Alexandria many times while I lived in Cairo; I could always imagine the Library, still intact.

  3. I love floating on my back in water and watching the sky. It almost makes me dizzy. I can imagine giving into it and letting it take me. Yes I can.

  4. A way with words....
    picture so clear...I can feel the mist...
    Ah... the Med (as the sailors out of Norfolk call it) a gorgeous sea...not to be forgotten.
    Thank you

  5. My bags are packed. When do we leave?

  6. This was such a beautifully still, warm moment.. It's written so gently, the writing in itself almost drowns you without knowing it.
    beautiful :-)


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