Figure this one out if you can. This morning I read an Irish poem, “Venio Ex Oriente” by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill translated into English by Michael Hartnett. It’s loosely about a sensuous woman from the Middle East. I’ve taken the tone and, I hope, some of the sensuality of that poem, relocated the subject’s origin to Africa, incorporated some articles I still have from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Swaziland, and then let my subconscious mess around with it. Who know what it’s all about? Maybe you can tell me.
Veni de Tenebris Continentem
Splintered cedar I bring with me,
and from dark hands a carved icon,
a beaded pestle from plateaus south,
to crush addiction in my hand.
My hair is braided, oiled and sleek.
My eyes admit an antique fear.
The bracelets on my wrists reflect
on batiked shapes upon the wall.
My body breathes a distant place,
it hints of earth and curious trees,
the scent of insect, bird and brute,
the heart of darkness beats within.
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