Qatar

Harry Clifton

A transit lounge, in 1981 –
I doze all night on a rickety chair
In God’s own country, where the Biblical Wars
Have still to happen. A cold sun,

A muezzin call, a man on a prayer-strip
At the dry-goods warehouse
Out by the runway. Sheds, a fuel stop –
And soon our wretched crew will reappear

From humping each other, in the first-class hotel.
I put aside Merton’s Elected Silence,
Learning to sit still.
Doha, Doma, what’s the difference,

And what do they do here anyway,
Where objects are weightless
In Duty Free days, and everyone seems to pray?
Years later, Bartholomew’s atlas

Makes it all clear, through the magnifying glass
Of Armageddon – one vast aircraft-carrier
Catapulting planes into abstract space –
Where now, a goat grazes,

And pearl-fishers dive between two dimensions
And what I would kill for is that single fly-blown Coke.
I open Merton again, just to keep awake.
I have not been paying attention.