Monday, October 18, 2010

A Travel Poem

Meditation on Africa

Six trips to Africa
And what do I have to show?
Beaded earrings, necklaces
A bracelet or two
Desert stones, a seed husk from a tree I cannot identify
Memories and photos
Barack Obama kanga purchased on the roadside in Tanzania
A friend
A namesake

Six trips to Africa
Ghana, Ethiopia
Kenya and South Africa twice
Tanzania
And finally Botswana
Picking up bits of Twi, Amharic, Swahili
I never managed Zulu
There was not time for Setswana
Countless marriage proposals I could not understand

Six trips to Africa
And what have I learned?
Stigmas prevail
HIV, homosexuality
Heineken is preferred over Windhoek and Castle
Malaria is miserable and prophylaxes are ineffective
Ghana has the best food
Kenya the most breathtaking landscape
The best fossils…”Kenya dig it?”

Six trips to Africa
And I want even more to immerse my heart in the place
That has given me so much
A richly complex element to my morality, my mortality
My white skin paled against the landscape
Leaving its mark on me
Faint sunspots emerging after each foray to the equator
Exchanges of bananas for t-shirts and cheap cotton dresses
Echos of an idea I once had about doing…something

Six trips and Africa
Is my second home
Where I am not at home, but challenged
Geometric patches on my National Geographic map
It is a vast space even in miniature
Barely known to me, to its permanent residents
Six trips
I have just begun to explore
And truly sought far too little

10/16/10

2 comments:

Virginia said...

Yes, Absolutely... :)

BuddhaPublicist said...

What a cool idea to write a poem about your travel to Africa! Then again, I'm partial to poetry. I really like this. Your details about the food and the misunderstood marriage proposals and the trading bananas t-shirts opens a window into your experiences.

Nicely done!

Jennifer