In the old neighbourhood
I lived above a clothing store
that was always going
out of business.
Tall naked mannequins
kept borrowing my sugar.
The paperboy was
an elderly blind woman.
She always called me sweetie
and still blows me kisses
every morning though
I've been gone for years.
At night the leaves slowly lose their warmth
like little beds with no one in them.
It's the last official day of summer.
The birds in the sky
appear light-hearted as thumbtacks
on an empty bulletin board.
The grass lost it job
when the field closed down and now
the moon goes for long walks in my room.
Renovations In The House Of Mirrors
Remember when they renovated the house of mirrors
across the street? All the construction workers looked like us, and I kept waking up in the middle of the night because
I could hear myself hammering. When I went over to talk to the person in charge about the noise, he crossed the street
and talked to me as well. One night I called the police to lodge a complaint and heard my own voice at the other end
of the line. I heard your voice on the telephone too, in the background, telling us all to go back to sleep.
I work in a government office with a large dark spider web outside
the window, and it’s our job to pretend it isn’t there. Sometimes the spiders work late, so we work late
too, writing reports with charts and graphs. I’m exhausted at the end of the day but it’s worth it when
I glance out the window and see dead flies that seem to be hovering in the air by themselves. There’s a rumor
going around that our office shut down years ago. But no one believes it because the web keeps growing larger, and we’re
busier than ever.
In Old Town Mombasa the streets are so crowded everyone seems to
have more than one face: a man muttering quietly to himself in a crumbling doorway becomes a ragged cat slowly crossing the
street; the security guard programming his cell phone turns into a woman breastfeeding a sleepy infant. We reach the
Akandu Co-op market and step from the air-conditioned tour bus. A stoned teenager follows us around, giving a strange,
incomprehensible tour. Drinking his Coca-Cola from a little hole made by hammering a nail through the bottle-cap.
The sun grips our thoughts and doesn’t let go, as if holding onto the railing of a steep staircase. One of the
workers hands me a carving of a three-legged block of wood with its eyes open. “It’s an unfinished elephant,”
he says. Back on the bus, heading to our hotel, the traffic creeps along the street like food forced down an invalid’s
throat. A nearby beggar missing both hands dangles a raised cup from one of his wrists. I’m not sure what’s
real and what’s imagined. The whole world seems unfinished. I look up at the sky, full of motionless clouds:
small white mountaintops without any mountains below them.