pagne - AccraSmoke in the air–

not pine or ash or some North American tree

a tropical smoke smokier than smoke–

permeates my skin, my hair, my soul

Hard red dirt

turns everything a shade of orange

but resists the probing roots of all but the hardiest

Trees looking like broken umbrellas

Baobabs sleekly reaching for the sky roots in the air

Banyans searching for the earth

Palms pound coconuts to the ground or give directions home

Mango trees straight out of every child’s tree drawing

Bright colors on dark skin

fingers floating across cloth

flowers better left in the ground than captured for a vase

Bats pinging

Djembes keep the rythm of the night

while fire crickets threaten sanity

and ceiling fans purring and whirring invite sleep

I know my own version of what you’re talking about

(This was my response—with some minor modifications— to this post at A Gypsy Mama today.  If you were ever looking for a new blog to read, go here.)

photo courtesy of longwayround/Luke and Kate Bosman

10 responses to “Indelible”

  1. I was just looking up pictures of Allada, Benin (my hometown) and reading a peace corps blog about Benin today. I think there is something about Africa that gets in you and won’t you let you go. I miss it.

  2. You’re right, Nathan. Africa does grab you and it won’t let you go. I always find it interesting in how a continent binds people, too. When I meet someone from just about anywhere in Africa there seems to be an unexplainable connection. Perhaps when we’re not there missing it draws us closer to those who have the same home shaped hole in their hearts.

  3. Yes, this piece is fantastic. I could live in those words. I have lived in some of them.

    I got to spend some in person time with Jenny Rain on Friday – she speaks so highly of you. It’s always a treat to discover people off line as well as in their writing.

    Thanks again for this,


  4. Thanks, Lisa-Jo! I miss some of those sights and sounds.

    Jenny told me she got to spend some time with you. I was just a little bit envious! Maybe one day we’ll get to meet . . . maybe even in Africa!

  5. Soul, this is beautiful poetry. Brings back memories, but I don’t have the same Africa ache as you do… I wasn’t there for long, and all the time the France-ache was still in me. Good to be home. 🙂

  6. Thanks, Soul. I’m always fascinated by the home-aches God puts in our hearts for places we weren’t born to. I think that’s one of the fascinating side perks of my role—seeing so many people come through with aches for so many places that have never popped into my mind as a place to actively miss.

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