After Africa

After Africa, Surbiton:

An unheated house, and flagstone pavements;

No colobus monkeys, no cheetahs scouring the plains.

Verrucas and weeping blisters ravaged our feet.

 

An unheated house, and flagstone pavements,

And snow falling through the halos of street lamps;

Verrucas and weeping blisters ravaged our feet;

But the shavings made by our carpenter, Chippy, were as soft as bougainvillea flowers

 

Or snow falling through the halos of street lamps.

Everyone was pale, pale or grey, as pale or grey

As the shavings made by our carpenter, Chippy, which were soft as bougainvillea flowers …

Red, African dust spilled from the wheels of our toy trucks and cars.

 

Everyone was pale, pale or grey, as pale or grey

As the faded carpet on which

Red, African dust spilled from the wheels of our toy trucks and cars.

Real traffic roared outside.

 

A faded carpet on which

Everything seemed after Africa; Surbiton’s

Real traffic roared outside –

No colobus monkeys, no cheetahs scouring the plains.


from Six Children (Faber, 2011), © Mark Ford 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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