Deep in the desert of Jordan we roamed,
In a rose tinted city named Petra, borne from stone.
Three hundred years before Christ it was built,
The Nabataeans mastered carving, the heat did nought but wilt.
Spice and silk passed through Petra to the East,
Trade was commanded by the Nabataeans, long deceased.
Earthquakes shook the city, and people fled
But stone refused surrender, and the city remained unbent.
We entered through a passage, dark,
A quake-formed canyon: Nature’s defiant lack of calm.
And at the end of that long passage,
Standing witness to the tremors
Was Al-Khazneh: a treasury.
The rock had parted to its glory.
Corinthian columns were smooth and stable,
Peach sculpture danced beyond camels waiting: saddled, able.
Tourists milled before masterpiece grown from rock,
Camel drivers pleaded: a ride is sure to beat the clock.
We walked on stones and those ground into sand,
Perfect forms sprung from rock; once unruly, carved by hand.
Past temples, tombs and storerooms, still sturdy,
Pearly colours shone in the sun: mauves and pinks, quite unearthly.
Through a columned market place, donkeys brayed
While working children rode; their whipping sticks unrestrained.
We drank chai with a Bedouin lady
Whose desert-found coins were old enough for Dollar payment.
Climbing above a row of royal tombs
The rocks were swirling rainbows; iridescent in bright light.
We watched sunset from high above Petra,
Beyond the careful carving, where the mountains stood majestic
And the desert’s vastness swallowed all below.
The sun baked stone lay all around us
And, almost in shadow, hidden lintels stretched their legs in the last warmth,
Watched only by Nature imperfect.
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