Here, Where the Days Are Even

We watch the day break on the ride to Kampala,

the roadside banners of painted aluminum:

Buy fortune, build Uganda!

At Owino market the Marabou storks perch along the waterway

and baskets of avocados, cassava and beans balance on women’s heads

as the men call down their bargains from the rafters.

Tables are piled with tea leaves, the maize laid out to dry

and the butchers hang goat meat from the doorways.

I see the posho in buckets and remember how we made it,

grinding the brittle corn all day. Munu, you are learning!

Face flushed with fever; the blood, the skin, the sun.

I pack my pockets with simsim.

I mark the path between the stalls with cane sugar.

And later, when you sleep.

I marry thirst and dust.

I dream of drowning,

of monsoon rains to soak my hair.

I wake dry and contained like a mud brick.

My lips crack under mosquito netting.

We head to the clinic to draw your blood,

walking behind, I run my idle engine

as boda bodas race past stirring up dirt and stones.

Presence of typhoid. A bottle of pills.

I squint into the sun.

The earth stains my feet in rust and crimsons.

Here the day is split in equal halves, light

and a dark so deep the stars sink toward us.

New constellations appear above the outlines of acacia trees.

I make my bed in the room without windows.

I smell of exhaust and mango blossom.

You leave early, before light or birds or the doorman

has taken his post.

You didn’t drag your feet.

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