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This excerpt is the closing movement from part one of a long novel, The Carpet. This passage is a hallucinatory dream which one of the major characters Sam Hallam experiences when he falls asleep in a park off of Bloor Street in Toronto on a very hot and humid day.

...in this grass where the light shone across the slope, the insects gathered searching for food in the desiccation brought on by the heat, children's voices called from the playing field, they played scrub baseball in the grass and dirt like it was an ancient ritual of a green tribe with a magisterial poise before the arrival of strangers, the children's heads tilted upward in meditation of the sunlight, their eyelids half closed, daydreaming in the heat waiting with a metaphysical patience for the bat to hit the ball and roll across the green. In this heat and shade, Sam felt the weariness and rested on the grass fading away as the child hurled the baseball in the air like a sphere flying through the light and rolling on the earth that was roundness upon roundness, Kaboto discovered sailing across the Mediterranean sea east to Misr and turning down the Nile River past Fustat searching for maps and navigators in the suqs crossing over by caravan to the Red Sea coast, boarding ship at the port of al Qulzum and sailing across the rough salt waters past reefs and docking at Jeddah, travelling inland with his guide and tarjoman to that city of symbols, signs, cubes, and cycles where he endeavoured by circumnavigating the sacred black stone, to square the circle with his astronomical imagination, Kaboto came upon the gifted navigator on his umrah, Shihab al Din Ahmad ibn Majid who took the burtugali navigator out into the desert at night and pointing at the spheres, told him by the stars, this is the way to bilad al hind, bilad al fars, bilad al sinn, spoke of Socotra, Sarandib and Malindi, Cabot bought ibn Majid's navigation book, Kitab al Fawa'id [Book of Benefits], Buzugibn Shahriyar's Kitab 'Aja'ib al Hind [The book of the Wonders of India] and the merchant Sulayman's Akhbar al Sin wa al Hind [Reports on China and India] in the suq al warqan and ibn Majid's rahmani. And returning west, Kabot bought on the black market certain forbidden Arabic nautical texts and charts from the Inquisitors' enforcers who had been ordered by the Inquisition in Andalusia to collect all texts written in the Arabic script from the Moors and burn them if they held infidel thoughts. Caboto bought from the blackmarket book racketers rahmanis, dafatir and suwars of Muhammad ibn Shadhan, Sahl ibn Aban and Layth ibn Kahlan the three Lions, smuggled them out of Spain to Venice where Caboto found himself in the libraries of Genoa and Venice with his Morisco translator decoding and comparing texts from the mushrak and maghrab where among them was ibn M—, who wrote: we had travelled west across bahr al Zuhumat through the circumambient waters al bahr al Muhit to arrive at the sacred city. And we arrived in the east in a state of thirst at Kanfu and Milinda, and docked there until we waited for the rains to pass then we headed out again, one hundred and twenty days voyage until we arrived in Mecca with god as our guide to the stars. Let no man say otherwise the earth is round. Johan Caboto Montecalunya returned to Valencia where he spoke with sailor boys flowing in from every port in the Mediterranean hearing new and old rumours of the Isle of Brasil and the Island of the Seven Cities. In the south the captains wandered about in Palos, Seville and Cadiz talking to the Moorish sailors. Montecalunya the Venetian went on seeking backers in Seville and Lisboa but was turned back. Da Gama got drunk with Caboto in Lisboa who told of his trip to Mecca and his time with ibn Majid. He spoke of an old sailing story that had circulated in a street once called by the Moors, darb al mugharrirun, the Street of the Adventures and a captain Raqsh al A'azz who disappeared. And hearing stranger tales of Khashkhash and of the Sultan Mansa Musa among the unconverted Moors and Jews bought as slaves in the market places of Castile and Valencia and sold into Portugal, Vasco de Gama had a spy question them and then bought one, and took him on board ship and sailed that way, half lost following the western coast line of Africa around the horn up the east coast of Africa until he found the great navigator, himself, ibn Majid again in the suq at Malindi hiring him on as pilot and with open sea sailing they crossed the Indian Ocean, ibn Majid leading de Gama east to the spice isles where greenness was a virtue. The green one guiding the Portuguese through the torrid zones of the ocean, an ant in a circle of fire until they arrived in Calicut. Gazing at the heavens he witnessed a falling star and recalled the adventurers from his own town of Genoa, the Vivaldi brothers who had passed through the straits of Gibraltar. Reading the knowledge of the stars as in a book in which Cabot came to ynglaterra, secured support amongthe English, he sailed outfrom Bristow with letters patent for the isle of Barazil and the Seven Cities, and Cipango and Sarandib, the Island of Rubies. Again in a restless search for a north west passage to the isles, and he fell into tormented sleep upon leaving Bristow from which he could not escape and he had a dream of a strange figure with smooth ochre skin pacing the shoreline in the green light with feathers upon his head, the stranger wore Cabot's ruby ring upon his finger, two silver Venetian earrings upon his ears and carried gilt sword with majesty as he walked upon the shoreline which he showed to Spanish sailors docking on that cape, Cabot awoke in restlessness and torment as the Atlantic waves swirled around them, he heard in echo the chant of the Arab sailors who had sung in couplets of the broiling of the waves of the Indian Ocean: Barbara wa Jafuna wa maujakal majnuna, Jafuna wa Barbara wa maujak kmatara, that he had heard in his days of his Red Sea voyage, and he said to his Morisco translator the one he called mio piccolo Turco or my little Turk, or Little Othman or more briefly, Othello, bring me now the navigation books of ibn Majid and ben M... and open the infidel texts and I pray thee read, decipher, and interpret, and Othello the Morisco opened the books and revealed the gilded illuminated miniatures of beasts and humans from every tribe upon the earth coupling in passion and as the ship gliding west on that second voyage, Cabot's dragoman read: falling under the influence and force of passion, so that the human gave a stare deep into the eyes of a stranger revealed the self and desire, and this ebony wisdom penetrated into the fibres of his flesh and revealed the hours of loneliness, discerned the hiss of the snake, the tide of humans that had passed through his form, the foods which had sustained them called the sacred and the taboo, for a moment that ebony centaur heard dionysian hunting hounds howling on the winds of thought...and what Cabot saw in the illuminations of the Moorish book tormented him, the corruption of the flesh and against the law of man and beast and gods as the miniatures revealed humans copulating, plunging downward, consumed and swallowed into the whale belly, love in the water, human beings loving each animal as mirror reflections, their blood congealing with the earth, air and water, the Celt under the shadow of the green oak and poisonous mistletoe plunging his sight into the merciful eyes of his lover hounds, the children of Kikuyu and Mumbi allowing their seeds and eggs to burst against the thighs of the billy goat and nanny goat and mingle with their seeds and eggs in the shadows of the jungle of Mount Kenya, the Arab flying and following the constellation of nomadic stars deep into the heart of the camel while beneath the calligraphy of the cherry tree's bough, the Chinese scholar was binding his flesh to the pig a gift from heaven, between heaven and earth which was the tariq, the Greek embracing the ewe, the apollonian maid pursuing the bull, the Egyptian woman in cotton gown kissing the lips of the lion, and clinging to the thighs of the crocodile, the Coptic priest embracing the cat, the Tartar, the Mongol and the Turk struggling for love of a filly, the Gothic warrior fighting against his own flesh in his copulation with the wolf and stag, the Inuit casting her soft flesh, her hips against the hide ofthe seal, the Anui sinking to the bottom ofthe oceans to rest his memory in the womb of the dolphin, the Haida maiden leaping upstream on the Fraser with salmon to their sacred spawning grounds mixing her eggs with their egg, the Nootkas embracing

open the infidel texts and i pray thee read, decipher, and interpret

the bear hand to claw, foot to paw, flesh to fur, snot to lips, the Lucumi hero growing in the monkeys soft womb, the Mandingo maiden heaving in the limbs of the shy ape, the Quechua losing himself in the knots of counting time through the gentle movements of the llamas and the alpacas, the Aztec against the lips, wings and claws of the condor plunging his generous heart and mouth against them, the Maya entering the realm of cyclical time, observing zero's phases and returning free of confusion in the gaze of the cougar. In the margins of that travel book Cabot observed each mother's son spilling their seeds into the daughters of the soil while each mother's daughter was opening wide her thighs to receive the generations of beasts in the green leaves soft, thick and layered upon the earth. The soft soil, grass and sand these were their beds to comfort their acts of loving, there came from each tribe of humans those who mixed their form in the forms of creatures that crawled on their belly, each blind person having their own way of seeing...and the dragoman Moor read on, he had only silence for the understanding which had been given to surpass knowledge of the light that flooded men and women with the rhythms of earthly love, hip gyrating against hip with fur on flesh, flesh on feather, feather on wool, wool on leather, leather on scales. In flesh, there was comfort in the forbidden, in sleep the quiet embrace of the lover's arm around his shoulder in the grass, the wing of the phoenix across his breast, his hand about the waist of the bear, the traveller faded downward into the love tide, seeds and eggs swimming through time and flesh to achieve sleep until he arrived in that sacred place where actions recur and oneiric lovers whom cannot recognize one another embrace each another, strange lovers guided by a navigator without a name swimming through green water and yellow light. And Cabot cried out, enough of wicked knowledge and infidel sorcery. Othello, what book is this? Take this book and put it in the fire. Did you not declare yourself a New Christian? What corruption and lust haunts your memory? And the Morisco read no more, closed the book, while Cabot went to the deck, his throat aching with thirst, he had not drank in three days, and walked in haste and restlessness to escape the mirages of couplings in bestialitee until he retired to his cabin, lay upon his bed in desire, rolled about until he obtained sleep and dreamt of the Arab navigator, ibn Majid, the one with a green smile, kohl beneath his eyes, and Cabot longed to sit in the circle with the sailors of Yemen who sang and chewed quat. Ibn Majid circumambulated the black stone, and with ibn Majid as his guide, Kaboto ascended through the light to the circle of the stars until they came to the verdant gardens of Socrota where the poet, Qays al Amru sat in the shade guiding a reed pen on papyrus which had been brought from the land of the Copts, wrote of walking in love through circles of fire until the heart burst into flames like a burning mirror and he beheld the image of a hunter with skin of shaqra who walked upon the new found land shore and discovered washed upon the rocks a gilt sword with a broken blade, a ruby ring and two silver earrings which he gathered up and returned them to his shaman who took them into the fasting lodge and while studying them the wise man committed himself and his memory to a fast which he endured four nights and days until he gained a vision on the dawn of the fourth day and he emerged from the sacred hut, sat in the circle and smoked tobacco in ritual with the elders and said after the sun had reached the highest point in the heavens, the strangers who came from afar in the past to lay waste our land and brought the seven diseases of the cut grass and sharp stone, broken birch and water, cod and seaweed and the purple bird as our elders from ancient times have prophesied to us, will soon arrive again at our shores, we must ready ourselves to turn them back or a white shadow shall pass across the land again until no Beothuk walks upon this green earth. While in the emerald isle of ynglaterra, it was written by one Polydore Vergil a Briton that it is believed that Cabotus the Venetian, the Great Admiral—though some write he was Genoan like Colonus who sailed under the Spanish flag—had found the new lands of the mighty Khan called khanland or others called the isles of Khanada (or as some have been heard to pronounce khan nada) and Malinda or briefly known as Cipango but it appears that Kaboto discovered them nowhere but on the very bottom of the ocean, to which he is thought to have descended together with his crew in his ship, and since that second journey the Venetian has not been seen again anywhere. And clearly it was only a dream that he had made such fantastic discoveries.

take this book and put it in the fire—what corruption and lust haunts your memory?
Frieze and handprint design by Sherazad Jamal.
Redux Handprint
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Marwan Hassan has published two books - a novel and two novellas. He lives in Ottawa.
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