Like huge dark herons thro’ the morning mist,
Bare-legged the women in the shallows stand;
Deep in the muddy river, with one hand
They sink the water-jars that swirl and twist,
Then with a clever jerking of the wrist
They scoop in water and keep out the sand,
And bear the gleaming ‘bellas’ safe to land.
But sweet Habeebeh back again will come
To wash her arms and face and her full lips;
She laughs, she is a bride, those finger-tips
So red with henna tell she has a home,
And lord; she cleanses next her jar from loam,
Leaps up the bank, and shakes about her hips
The flowing robe of blue, and off she trips.
(Idylls and Lyrics of the Nile, p. 79)