“But how did it work? The bargain? How could the city last?”
His question unanswered, Hassan stumbles homeward, picking his way in a series of child’s shortcuts across the bomb sites and the rubble of Baghdad. And, though his stomach hurts (for fasting is easy, this Ramadan; and food is hard to come by) his head is held high and his eyes are bright. For behind his eyes are towers and jewels and djinn, carpets and rings and wild afreets, kings and princes and cities of brass.
And he prays as he walks (cursing his one weak leg the while), prays to Allah (who made all things) that somewhere, in the darkness of dreams, abides the other Baghdad (that can never die), and the other egg of the Phoenix.