Gopi Krishnan Kottoor
Africa - Poem by Gopi Krishnan Kottoor
We used to sit
Around the red teak table
With the Book Of Knowledge
Open with its picture
That's where we were soon going.
To the country that stood out like the cat muscle
On Cassius Clay's shoulders
We would get there,
As soon as father's office papers
Came back from New Delhi.
For days, months, years,
Africa was our mulberry bush.
Africa. In all weather, the book would lie open
Upon the teakwood table.
We would sit and dream of the crown of Pyramids
Or of our feet dipped in Uranium.
The pygmies came out of the Denkali forest
With their poison-tipped arrows
But there was always Phantom,
With his skull ring
And we woke up without sweat.
Every morning we returned before breakfast to Africa
Turning brown among silver fish in the sunlight from the window.
Decades later near a soccer field in America,
I saw Boko on film. I saw a black youth's red blood
On the dark long white patrolled streets of Africa.
Now I know,
Africa is no open book.
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