For a little while

The underside of the table
Has colours like the Sphinx
In one of those arch
Murder mystery telemovies 
Where white men in white suits
Pontificate on how the Mamaluk
Beys were defeated by Napoleon
With the help of an ancient desert curse
Discovering Thebes, Dendera and Philae 
In the wake of Janissaries fleeing
Their horses hooves curving up
A sandstorm’s furied face
For the uncomfortable planar shapes
Of magic carpets to ride on
Eating the uneven edge
As if the broad, contemplative forehead
Of Africa had a migraine
The pry ram ids seen from space tack sharp
The women pouring jewels
In elegantly panelled dining rooms
Of cruise ships much too big
For undredged river beds
Discussing losses at baccarat
With the vestal aplomb
Of supremely innocent naïveté 
Prophets in reed baskets
Floating amongst the crocodiles 
Muttering chemin de fer
Derricks and dirigibles emerging
From a postcard landscape
Smoke haze from the burning
A pink stamp on the wood
Almost wholly illegible 
As if the substrate were once 
Prime meat, now the ancient dead
But curled up quietly
Amongst the galleried forest
Of laminate and spindle legs
The close carpet smell 
With the noisy zigzag pattern
So full of time
Nevertheless a safe place to sleep
At least 
For a little while