Incident At Sakina

                 (An Arusha Story)

arusha city pic1

 I’m deep in the music, lost in the sound,

 foot beating the time, fingers playing the strings,

 that sing their soft song of f sharp to d,

 the notes in between, that lingering e.

 then came a shriek, then the screams, a quick rush of feet, 

 beneath the blue sky, through the green of the trees, 

 then a silence as loud as a lioness’ roar,

 that froze my fingers right on the edge, 

 heart pounding, just listening, to shouts, to loud moans ,

 the running of feet, the noise of a crowd,

 then me running too, from door to the gate,

 to that scatter of rags that lay on the road,

 where we gathered in awe of the presence of  death;

‘mangoes, that’s what she sold,’ 

‘she was so old, and so poor’

‘the car came haraka,’

‘he came at her fast, and disappeared quick’, 

‘thrown high in the air.

 ‘like a leaf on the wind,”

“pole sana, so sorry’

“sikitika,”so sad,’

“vipi, dada? Unasaema?”

‘what’s up sister, you say what’

“ay mbali sana,, ay very bad.’

‘hey what’s up with her brother?’

 “just dead, man, ala, this old Maasai,

 ‘twende, let’s go, look, forget it my brother,

 ‘life is too short and we gotta go,”

  so they left, the crying, the wailing, 

  the blood  pooled at our feet

  as women pushed past me, then the police,

  all dressed in white and very polite,

  then we all turned away, to carry on life,

  without gods, a purpose, 

  to face out own fate.

Old Mount Meru

arusha city pic1

.It sees them all with eternal eyes,

The street boy, the shop girl, the thief,

The man in the bar, the girl in the car,

The morani, the proud, the ones with no chance,

The ones still clinging to dreams,

or to prophets, to Jesus, Mohammed,

The real and the fake,

The searchers, the desperate,

It watches them all,

In the town, in the fields,

Their broken hearts withered,

Like old falling leaves,

Floating, twisting, endlessly down,

To the sad waiting earth, arms open,

Comforting, imploring, while they struggle

For lives beyond anyone’s reach,

Greeting the day with brave, bitter smiles,

From the hopelessness of hope,

Among the green shining hills,

Where, unseen, uncaring, in silence,

Roams the leopard on long, ancient paths,

Where Arusha Town rests below old Mount Meru.