Monday, January 25, 2010


What lies beyond what is seen? What does the eye mask? Can the eye detect what it does not expect?

I see concrete, I see dead dogs, I see clouds of fumes. I see rows of concrete buildings and the steel of cars. I see the planted tree and the grass. I see the cat hiding and the donkey waiting.

I see a world of human design.

And I feel despair.

Until, high above, viewing where I do not view, seeing a sight that I did not expect. A delight.

Shimmering white, hovering, perching, looking below. Looking intently, only to fly out of sight.

But remaining within an audible range of sound. Screaching.

In Moroccan Arabic MOKA, Egyptian Arabic BOOMA, Amharic GOOGUT, French HIBOU.

In English OWL. The bird that can make the sound of O OO OW embodied in the roundness of her face.

A round O and an exquisite presence. A regular barn owl, the most common of birds of nearly any place.

Such remarkable commonness where tall concrete buildings meet an empty lot, the metro, a long “garden” strip and palm trees.

Indeed, in the trees lies the unseen, in the ground the unheard and unremarked, in the empty buildings and spaces of Cairo the seekers of darkness in light.

The world of human design becomes a world of such breadth and depth, a living and deadening energy, manipulation and resistance, will and determined paths.

A mystery.

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