poem

The Pictures I Didn’t Take

Not the muddy paths pretending to be streets,
nor the ever-present entourage of children
that hung on to my hands and waist and
clung to my arms and hips.

It missed that one wooden cart at the crossroads
with dagaa, sardine-like fish, piled four feet high,
that guided me home to the Mkinis each day,
and it neglected the toddling boy who fled
in terror at my pale skin, sobbing to his mother?s skirts.

The market square, full of fruit and flies,
goats and chickens, bright colored
cloths and bibles, flour and sugar mounded
high beside coke bottles, the loud cry of
“Mzungu!” which led us place to place,
the open-air pool-hall and the
standard forty-minute wait to be served a drink,
strangers with sixteen ways to say hello,
were quite simply ignored.

My camera never caught Kawe because
it could not have captured the press of bodies
filling a dalla-dalla nor the gentle stroke of a child
on the skin of my arm nor the taste of Bitta-lemon
soda nor the acquired skill of eating beans and rice
and stews without silverware nor the simple fact
that I could smell everything and everyone.

I knew better than to try –
my camera had already missed the early dawn over
white-washed Mykonos, yellow light and blue water
harmonizing with the Muslim call to prayer;
it had missed the warmth of the Carribean at midnight
and the crabs which walked the streets, from the ocean
to the swimming pools, at night-time in Huatulco;
it had missed the counter-beat of Istanbul
which was thrumming under and between.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *