Red Soil

A land of red soil covers my shoes.
It clings to my ankles and dusts my face,
Making my brown skin ruddy and bronze.
This land coats my hands, my heart, my thoughts:
The thundering hooves of impalas on the plain,
The still, silent pose of the acacia umbrella thorn tree,
The chorus line of long horn cows whose lean stomachs
Sway side-to-side.

I smell the sky in Africa.
Remembering two smooth-rumped glowing giraffes
Nibbling leaves in the lamplight of our van.
The early morning chill is still in my mouth
with the spice of tall grasses from the thatch roof and walls.

This mother continent holds me tightly in her womb
Loving me as the child of hers that I am.
Why did it take so long to open my eyes in her dawn?
I am a newborn in awe of her ancient light.

Now awakened, my skin vibrates African:
Table Mountain high, Soweto deep,
Red moonrise on Lake Jozini,
Songs of Zulu children in my ears.

Before my Ingwavuma friend, sitting beneath the Fever Tree,
Gives her last breath to the AIDS demon,
I will send my soiled rand,
A prayer for her revival.

Written in October 2006

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