Amman sprawls, sun-struck, on seven
by John Canaday
hills, like a latter-day Rome, only
less so. It was, in fact, once Roman,
as the ruined theater downtown attests,
but today the grown children of sheikhs
drive herds of camel-colored
Mercedes down the steep wadis.
These castoffs of the rich Gulf nations
bellow in the narrow streets of the souk,
where the voices of gold and silver
merchants buzz in their beehive shops.
The cries of muezzins from a dozen mosques
buzz likewise on the outer hills,
blunting their stings against the double-
glazing of the wealthy. A water peddler
hawks the sweat of his brow in a neighborhood
frosted with roses. How wild, how strange
it all seems, as exotic as a rose
thrown in the face of a thirsty man.