Were storks here before the Berbers descended
from the hills, creating the ochre city
on the plain and sailing to Iberia –
or did the birds come to build their immense,
intricate nests because there were towers?
Flocks of satellite dishes point eastwards.
Beyond the Atlas Mountains, snow covered
deeply now, are the Sahara Desert
and the immemorial routes south to the green
and desperate countries of West Africa.
In the nearest mosque, the muezzin
(a youthful, mellifluous tenor)
sings the afternoon prayer – so close it sounds
as if he were beside us. A stork, nesting
on the minaret, opens it wings – its beak
like a prow – and rises surely into
the indifferent sky.