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Spindly fingers,
gnarled baobab limbs
wither, vanishing
in the sun-fired earth.
My hoary skin
maps the fractured plain,
feeds it; as I will be feasted.
Feet fan starlit
to the satellite hamlets.

Charcoal plains
rise in the easing deep;
we lurch crazily; Zengo
swerves to skirt
the deadliest pocks.

We rumble onward,
drawn by the scent
of damp, fly-trailed,

Courtesies are Mori-traded;
Zengo's rough fingers
draping the wheel;
scrub trees scar
our ivory flanks
with a blackboard screech.

The goats are tallied,
bone-skin bleaters;
our voices climb.

Earthen tracks, wide
river's edge craters,
hardfired in the kiln
of one Sahelian blaze.
We cavort ankle-deep,
neatly bisecting
the smaller prints.

I hoist a branch,
flaunt ripening ivory.
Her nudge trips me back
belly-sheltered with the other.
Warm breath.
Behind, a slim thread
widens. The charred plain
shadows a graying sky.

We encircle the noxious brute,
No eyes
trace the fly-flocked granaries.
The driver lifts his shoulders.

Zengo shrugs, guns
the four-by-four.

We are bitten by dust.
When the roar has faded,
our machetes lift
and flash again.

The brush explodes
star strewn, cacophonous.
I sweep them to safety
as I plummet,
but there is none;
scan the blackening in wonder,
seek the voids
of these fallen stars.

Stilt lofted granaries
squat pregnant, akimbo,
straw floors sag low in a
thatch roof reflection;
dense; a moist burden.

We wait for the feast
in the thresholds
of millet-filled huts.


Nov. '99

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