The Damascene Dancer

The Damascene Dancer
Oliver Duillier – Syria


I saw her under the flicker
of a damaged street lamp.
The music of ancient Damascus
dissolved in the busy street
but she remained undisturbed;
the beat resonated in her bones.

She swayed like the branches
of the white jasmine trees,
moved sporadically and erratically
by the unpredictable wind.

The city surrounding her
flowed; a river around a rock,
unmoved by the untamed beauty
marring its urban rhythm.

White scarf in hand
and ebony hair swinging wildly,
she danced with the dervishes of old,
spinning, spinning, spinning,
until she could spin no more.

"I love you," I told her
and begged her to marry me,
for her dance had intoxicated me
as surely as the strongest wine of Bekaa.

"I love you," she said,
"but we cannot marry
for you are not Muslim."

"I will convert," I replied
and tore the cross from my neck
to prove my conviction.

"What sort of love is that,"
she asked me,
"that you would reject God for?"

Her brown eyes shone
brightly as the clouds parted
and the stars perforating the black sky
smiled down acceptingly.

"What sort of God is that,"
I asked her,
"that you would reject love for?"

Published in damazine – Summer 2008

Born in Helsinki, Finland, Oliver Duillier is a would-be writer currently based in Damascus, Syria, where he is hoping to complete his first novel without losing the last of his hair.


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