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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Cairo Scenes





Returning from the Valley of the Kings,

We took the air-conditioned tourist bus

Away from the security and chaos

Of designated roads. It lurched and stopped.

The driver closed his eyes and seemed to shake.

What was it we were not supposed to see?

The camels waiting for their certain deaths?

A merchant gesturing outside his shed,

Haphazard lean-to—leaning into life—

Where, underneath the desert sun, they say,

No meat will spoil, and so it hangs for sale?

An egg caught in the gullet of a snake

Could work its way through such a narrow sphere

But we seemed paralyzed by our mistake.


                                                 -Joyce Wilson

Cairo Scenes

Like Emerson




Another bus was squeezing close beside;

Its busy passengers engaged in talk

Had hardly noticed us. Our windows up,

We could not ask them if they knew the way.

A man across from me returned my stare.

In gray wool suit and spectacles, he bore

The patience of a sage, like Emerson

Whose self-reliant wanderer would find

Great solitude amidst distracting crowds.

He showed no need to ask why we were there.

Indeed, we could not say why we were there,

A real embarrassment to us, for sure,

And inconvenience now to each of them,

Who could not pass until we gave them room.


                                                         -Joyce Wilson




Cairo Scenes

On The Terrace




The terrace promised a more human scale

Where men and women did not seem so small.

I held my camera, focusing the lens,

To clarify the shapes of cityscape—

A brown, intriguing, treeless neighborhood—

When suddenly a gaggle of young girls

Surrounded me as if I were their prize.

I put the Nikon down and slowly turned

To meet them face to face, or girl to girl,

In blessings of our mutual delight.

I looked at them, they looked at me—

Their patterned scarves, my flowered skirt—in thrall

By virtue of our close proximity

To universal giddiness and awe.


                                -Joyce Wilson

Cairo Scenes

These Cairo Girls


Their teacher, young and male, who spoke English,

Explained that they had travelled with the school

From their district, which I could see beyond

The wall, if I would turn again and look.

It all seemed blank to me, without a map

Or other references that might explain.

With little else to say, we shrugged and smiled.

They turned to go and I to walk away

But not before we made a covenant

To celebrate our differences with one

More careful pausein which I pledged to see

Them each as they must be themselves, in hope

That they will see me as I am myself

Unique together in this desert place.

                                        -Joyce Wilson