Youth sits awkward beside the river,
washing school uniform against the rocks.
Lather gathers at the river’s brim whose lips, kiss the banks. He looks up:
Flying machine, slicing through the blue yonder;
“one day I will leave and never come back”.
“But what about your family?” the poem asks.
Back-pocket bible for a mother done raised you better
To leave unannounced.
You know this.
You told the rebellion rioting in your teenage lungs,
You’ve got a curfew to uphold,
But oh the prodigal son,
You are so akin to your daddy’s ways,
The same shadow that left as quick as a colonial master, hot
on the boot-heels of a revolution,
no wonder you keep poems like a passport
for every moment
you have fled yourself.
Stamps: slapped against page; mere water-coloured evidence
Of how fast you were to run, laps around your skin,
Only to arrive smack-drab at the beginning.
You do not know where you are going do you?
Before you sits, an open road: straight as a spine;
But the path preceding is laid waste with the purgatory you call your past.
Your baggage spills your dirty clothes at the wake.
Mama never told you there would be days like this:
Your feet, callous at the heels; pockets
Filled with sand; and the dust in your teeth
Tasting like where you’ve been
This is how you lose yourself.
Were you not an old man,
peddling his creaking bicycle home: whose pegs,
cup a mouthful of mangoes for his anxious children?
Or were you the drifter standing alone,
On the bank of street. Hand-luggage choked firm in your fist
As your thumb cuts through the evening air.
Or were you just a passenger tapping nervously at the back seat window of a mini-bus that raced
The thin torrents of road; snaking towards the horizon;
where a masculine night sky chased a shy, pink afternoon.
And as though certain you are moving,
Elusive – Remains your fate.