through the arch to the sea
Hilda Rix Nicholas
1914 Tangier, Morocco
oil on canvas and board
40cm x 50cm
Art Gallery of South Australia
I have known mornings like this before—the sky
high and pale; the light blanching the sides of stone
so that everything feels clear again. Even the market-place
smells of cold salt air, and not of fruits spoiling in the sun
I watch you with your mother. The women’s voices
are like the sea—quiet, murmuring, always there—and
I know you would run with me, through the arch
if you could. Our sandals slapping against the uneven
ground would be loud. Louder than the Call to Prayer.
I know you see me, even through all those coverings.
Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me going,
knowing the sea, through the arch is there; knowing
that you are there. And that on some mornings
even the way the light spreads on yellow tiles,
is a promise; a prayer.