In Liberia, my friend tells me, the rain is a sheet,
that hammers the world with rapid, roaring blows,
and Liberians sometimes eat dogs, and when she threw her dog
a birthday party, it was an event,
and people came from miles around to attend
because it was such a hoot.
(Someone throwing a birthday party for a dog – ha!)
In my memory, I remember daydreaming about Africa as a child.
My dreams, they never involved rain, or Liberians,
or birthday parties for dogs.
I imagined sunshine, vast expanses, nameless peoples,
adventures that involved muggy paths and jungle vines,
pursuits of lost temples and gold,
I still think of the elephants, but also of the ivory trade,
of wartorn Juba, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela,
apartheid, Ancient Egypt, Angola,
the Eye of the Sahara, southern Algerians
and their elaborate ornamented camels, speaking Berber dialects
and making silver jewelry.
I think of Sheba, Cenozoic fossils, my friend a lone white woman
riding in a taxi through Monrovia, men strumming ouds,
Leymah Gbowee, rapper boys pulling up in a car to collect their babes
in Benin City, and the Niger River, and the Nile, and the rains
washing through Guinea, and the rains
washing through Togo, and the rains
washing through the Congo, and the Horn of Africa as a dry thorn
guiltlessly pricking the world.
I see colors, and faces, and skyscrapers, and waterfalls,
a whole continent of 54 countries I have only walked in my mind,
only gazed at
through pictures, only lived
through stories and postcards, showing up in my mailbox.
But, I still daydream of Africa.
Write stories of Africa, write poems of Africa.
Africa on the weekend.