Poetry

To Addis, Differently

Eight thousand feet and climbing

To the music of falling rain,

Past rolling green meadows.

Through clouds that brush my face,

Cool, cotton-like,

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,

Beseeching. Despairing.

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,

Everyone does.

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 spice.

And all that’s on offer

In this land of contradiction

Where Man first  lived.

(Copyright: Maya Mirchandani. 2011)

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