Eight thousand feet and climbing
To the music of falling rain,
Past rolling green meadows.
Through clouds that brush my face,
Like the soft creamy fabric on their back.
I watch them in wonder
Tall, proud, chiselled faces
Walk rhythmically to the beat of nature.
Some sharp and young,
Ready to set out in the world
In their wedding gowns or business suits.
Others wizened by time and life.
Like the woman whose haunted eyes pierce my heart
As she sits on a pavement outside a jewellery shop.
Infant at her breast,
A gaze to avoid, for fear of stoking guilt
Or pain, within me.
Her desolation stands out
In stark contrast to the bustle around.
Who knows when life stopped for her?
Or mothers like her,
Whose children play in slush gullies
Of tin roof shanties that crowd the hillsides.
Under the shadow of scaffolding and cranes
Crowding the skyline.
Fragrant coffee arouses the senses.
Sipping endless cups of rich brew
Under a jacaranda sky, he says:
The famine was decades ago,
We’ve moved on, so should you.
There’s chaos, there’s hunger
No different from so many other places on the dark continent.
Our history is our strength,
Our tradition is power,
Our land is our fortune.
Even you want a part of it,
That’s what brings them in
These modern day explorers
With different faces,
Speaking different languages.
To till our land, and build our cities
To rejoice in our yield
Of English roses and ears of corn.
To find pause under the cascading red
Of a Kosso tree.
Intoxicated by honey wine
And all that’s on offer
In this land of contradiction
Where Man first lived.
(I wrote this upon my return from Addis Ababa)