In the same year, before the moon had gone twice over a missing sun
they, over an old gramophone, introduce a speech tax.
Rattling like his father, the king allocates each family
twenty and one words.
A stranger’s body, washed afloat by a tide,
uses up one: “shame”.
A lover— over the other side of life— says nothing;
the muezzin calls:
On fourth take, a clerk counts.
“Ash hadu an la ilaha illal lah”
Twice. Counting fifteen.
“Ash hadu an-na Muhammadar resulul-lah”
Heard between lovers and fathers
and, unanswered prayer calls.
The gramophone bellowing.
A lover walks (in search of words.