A legendary trove slumbers under sandscape,
tempting Muslim and zendik[1] alike:
hopefuls brave distant vistas for Samsama[2],
mythic symbol of battlefield heroism.
Advancing upon mundane wilderness,
a Bedouin urchin recites memorized cipher;
magically prompting the cavernous rictus,
he swiftly plunges into craggy depths.
Greeted by an aureate glow of buried riches,
he shields his gawp from splendor:
beyond gem and jewel and coin lies the prize,
its metal glinting with exultant sheen;
forged by the Jewish sons of Bani Qaynuqa,
Samsama once felt Muhammad’s hand.
Carefully the urchin inches toward the sword,
which has never missed a single stroke.
Grasping its antique haft with dusty fingers,
he sees three nails binding blade to hilt.
Abruptly the rictus rumbles and groans,
startling boldness verging on triumph:
now even scorpions and horned vipers scatter
…as dust clouds obscure a gilded trap.


[1] Arabic: Unbeliever
[2] Arabic: Cleaver; a legendary sword in Islam which passed through the hands of caliphs and poets