At Nanyuki

At Nanyuki,
the equator runs below my feet,
and I think there must be a seam,
six lines of coarse stitches,
like a cricket ball,
holding the halves together,
but over asphalt and tamed bush,
through outlines of bare acacia trees,
there are smiles and tears,
and unspoken fears, Jambo,
he shouts into the cold wind;

cold like it was in Greenwich,
straddling the Meridian,
east and west like lovers meeting,
parting, daring old Kipling*,
somewhere here the silk roads ended
as oceans spilt secret routes
to gold paved streets
of yet another new world;

so many lines, to divide, to rule,
when we cannot command the whole,
drawing lines, against, across,
until there are tiny boxes,
matrix within matrix,
one for you, one for me,
the size of coffins,
our stories inside them,
double spaced in Arial 12;

and us, shackled,
bound in our cells,
marked and labelled,
toeing lines we cannot see,
splitting us, joining us,
but all we feel is the chill;
the air is cold here,
in our lonely rectangles,
like in Nanyuki,
where I stand,
where the equator cuts
the earth that has no seam.

* The Ballad of East and West, Rudyard Kipling

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27 thoughts on “At Nanyuki

  1. I love this for so many reasons. The last time I was in London I straddled the Meridian. It brought home the entire colonial era in a way lines on a map did not. I also wonder who decided that north was up. And why Africa, larger than North and South America combined is portrayed as inconsequential.

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  2. Wow! I hardly know where to begin! Maybe with those last two lines that sum up the pain of colonialism in this amazing poem: “where the equator cuts / the earth that has no seam.” And that is how the game of cricket traveled the world, so the cricket ball is another sum of attempts at stitching the world in unnatural ways. And I find myself in here moving line by line toward my own demarcated space, one I haven’t actually chosen yet. If I don’t chose one, it will inevitably be chosen for me. I’m sharing this poem! ANd keeping it. Thank you.

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  3. It is sad that it has taken so long for mankind that it doesn’t decide the rules when you think that only a few hundred years ago Columbus was expected to sail right over the edge of the supposed flat Earth. Common sense clearly not so common for gullible humans and still it goes on as those that make money can’t see the harm they are doing to the planet.

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  4. Lovely. Indeed the earth has no seam, but we humans somehow find it necessary to invent one! If only we humans did not find it important to divide everything up with lines.

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