13 May 2009

you may or may not know

you may or may not know
that if you drive along the northern coast of zanzibar--
say at 7:45 p.m. on a wednesday night--
you'd see people out for an evening stroll.

women walking in pairs with bright kangas draped around their shoulders against the slight chill in the air, boys and girls side by side.
a man with one hand clasping his arm behind his back, slightly bent forward,
going right along and listening to his friend
who is walking an old red bicycle and telling a story.

you may or may not know that all along that road
there are people sitting on front stoops,
peering into and out of tiny shops
where dim lightbulbs hang from the ceiling and pulse with generator electricity.

i bet you didn't know that is what you would see. i didn't either.
i didn't expect to see
the way the palm trees swayed against the dark sky.
the way what might have looked like lush wilderness
was mysteriously peopled with these figures
illuminated, captured in motion
in the headlights of a passing truck.