Men of Yemen by Max Merckenschlager

Max and his wife taught English to Arab students in Taiz, Yemen Arab Republic during 1989 and 1990.
He wrote this soon after arriving.

Ali, the sportsmaster and school disciplinarian,
took my hand in his
and led me, unselfconsciously,
to where I’d sought directions.

And did a human current pass between us?
And did he sense a sweating of my palm?
And did our students stop their chat to watch us?

I think not.

Later in the souk,
men in skirts embraced and kissed
and walked off holding hands,
as I observed and mused “what’s normal?”


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