Uncle Abdur-Raheem

First thing
in the morning
he rushes through his prayers,
muttering and mumbling,
listing all the saints,
fiddling with his prayer beads
staring at the ground,
troubled, muttering to himself,
then glancing at the sky -
up there
a few clouds
and many distant stars
She never said, 'Good morning',
or asked if he slept well;
she never stroked his hair;
she never blew him a kiss,
a kiss from the depths of her heart -
nothing like the old days,
the good days.
Actually, she wasn't there:
she was in the stables
saddling the donkey
or milking the goats
for morning tea.
The birds had not begun
when Uncle Abdur-Raheem
reluctantly leaves home.
At the waterfront he meets
the other labourers;
some are from Ajjiref,
some are from the mountains.
'How's it going?' he asks;
he banters with them -
they wind him up,
but Uncle Abdur-Raheem
doesn't take the bait;
people round here
never get worked up:
get angry with who?
get angry about what?
Here, they're all friends,
like one big family;
even if they're not related
they're all in the same boat;
'Whatever happens', they say,
'long may you live, my friend;
have hope, despite it all.'
Uncle Abdur-Raheem
you were a farmer once upon a time,
free to fall asleep and
free to get up when you liked;
no clocking in
no timed lunch-breaks,
watering your fields on moonlit nights
planting under the stars.
But time is a wheel that never stops