6 January 2013

Amman part 1 (downtown)

Tourists love spices in piles, 20 chickens in a cage, 10 rabbits and 4 tortoises stuffed together, a wall of teas, a goat’s head,

organs shiny and carefully laid out – asking for directions and the butcher pulling his hand out of an animal and pointing the way, his finger wet from some insides, glinting in the sun,

diesel fumes, cigarettes, piles of rubbish in holes in the street, every hole is a bin, there are holes everywhere and hardly any bins,

fresh juice, struggling to read in Arabic, so many tiny twittering birds in cages, so many twittering birds in so many twittering trees, strange white dried intestinal blowfish-like linings of things,

piles and piles and piles of fruit, makeshift roof to block the sun, grocers all singing their wares, more beautiful than an English market – though those calls have their charms, here they are practically singing, they are responding to each other, seller to seller to seller, each behind his (it is always his) piles of cucumbers tomatoes potatoes carrots avocados mint parsley rocket coriander, piled impossibly high, some clatter to the floor and no one cares, even here sometimes people can afford not to care about some escaped smushed tomatoes, they hear each other and they join in, they pick up on the rhythms, the beats and silences, the tones, inflections and words, I stand and listen for a long time: nothing songs of vegetables, how can this sound so good? and everything smells unreal as in so real, as in muddy and wet and fresh and delicious, I can’t resist and buy huge bunches of mint leaves, tiny coins in exchange, I feel happy and guilty at once,

the organs, I can't get them out of my head, every single part of the animal, skinned to its full potential, I’m disgusted and impressed, so dark red, so shiny, my nail polish matches in a sick gorgeous way, slippery livers and kidneys and brains and faces and unidentifiable flesh tubes, I wouldn’t even know what to write on a list, slippery flesh tube x3, offal scares me,

discount fashions on every dusty street corner, I rifle and sift and imagine the profits, I am ugly like that, in London this would go for £20! vintage, authentic, American,

oil for your hair, oil for your skin, oil for your food, oil for cooking, oil for cleansing your wounds, sealing your sores, heating your house, driving your car, dipping your bread in – tiny bottles, magic and adorable, bottles, vats, tanks,

olives, tangerines, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, sage, tea, tiny chamomile flowers of unknowable prettiness, coffee, thyme, sesame seeds, ginger,

juice, spit, snot – in the cab door a still wet stranger’s tissue, I have to touch it to close the door, my hand becomes enemy, potentially infinite infection, germ plethora, I hold my hand at arm’s length all the way home and wash it repeatedly until it is safe again, safe from glowing infection,

carpets, red, green, white – these are the nationalistic ones, pink, purple, yellow – these are the ones I want, standard speckled stone tiles lining certain areas, exactly the kind I remember,

delicious smells, young men running across insane streets carrying metal trays piled high with hot white pittas and glasses of sweet black tea, I want to stop one and grab one and tear it open and give half away and let the steam warm my hands and eat it up while it’s hot and perfect,

cat lounging on a tin roof under a picture of the smiling king, throwing itself on its back and soaking up the sun, it doesn’t need to care about anything, perfect round here for scavengers,

cheap nasty thrush-giving sex lingerie, hilariously next to 80s mannequins in hijab, under your hijab you can wear this sexy sexy for your husband...

breathe cough breathe cough breathe cough cough cough home.

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