you must be tired
of losing yourself
The day we went to the sea
mothers in Madras were mining
the Marina for missing children.
If we’d lived in another age,
I’d have been the kind of woman
who refused to cast down her eyes.
The kind of woman
Let us not speak of those days
when coffee beans filled the morning
with hope, when our mothers’ headscarves
hung like white flags on washing lines.
The body dances in a darkened room
Turning itself inside out
So that skin can face the light in fractures,
Slip like shadow through skeleton walls,
It begins with the death
of the childhood pet -
the dog who refuses to eat
for days, the bird or fish
This is an ode
to be sung
in the latest hour of night
In Nairobi, an albino boy followed me everywhere
Peering at me from behind cupboards and trees,
Chortling with glee: Hello fine!
Here is space. Here is space
These days men on curbs are curved
Like farm tools or bits of wire,
Like unruly saucers of tea flung
Into the trees, the walls, the breeze.
This morning men are returning to the world,
Waiting on the sides of blackened pavements
For a rickshaw to carry them away
On the sharp pins and soles of their dancing feet.