Monday, January 14, 2008

The smell of Kenya

As I have been sorting and cleaning and tossing and boxing these last few weeks, I rediscovered a folder full of poetry that I've written. It's been a long time since I've written any kind of poetry. Some of the things I remember writing as I re-read them, and some surprise me ("Did I really write this?!"). Though I can't say this is one of my best, Kenya has been on my mind lately with all the turmoil that has been going on there since the elections on December 27th, and the poetry I have written about Kenya holds a special place in my heart. Because of that, I thought I would share this poem.

I remember writing this after my second trip there, and when I was back at home I caught a faint smell of something... I still smell Africa now and then. Sometimes John and I will be somewhere together, and as a scent passes us we look at each other and just know without saying it, and both of us are taken back there for a moment.

They say that our sense of smell is the most tightly linked to memory, and so whatever it was that scented the air on this day took me back to that place in my heart that I knew from my trips to that land, and I wrote this:


I smelled Kenya today
in the warm breeze
on my sweet sweaty skin,
in my hot breath;
so I closed my eyes
and felt the dust
pelt against my legs,
heard the harsh rustle of dry trees;
as I walked I took off my shoes
and let the ground
take pieces of me,
a trail of me I left behind
in my tracks,
me as the dirt;
eyes still closed
I closed my mind, too
for exclusive use
of memories:
sounds of laughter and drums,
sights of ebony skin and clouds,
smells of cooking fires and smog,
feelings of Strength and solid earth,
taste of life and joy.
(C) 1996 ~kjb

This is indeed a piece of "my original self."

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