Zimbabwe Atlas by Margo Dean

I welcomed the shade of the jacaranda tree
as I waited for the bus to Jairos Jiri.
Dusty boys scuffled with a ball
and a man selling mangoes tried to catch my eye.

Our bus was late, running on African time,
and no one was at all concerned.
An old woman sat across from me,
sipping Fanta Orange and chewing roasted mealies.

The bus from Gweru stopped and people tumbled out-
stretching cramped legs, gathering children and boxes.
I watched them idly, grateful for some activity
to rouse me from the stupor of too much heat and waiting.

The last to leave the bus was a tall woman,
straight as a marula, with an easy grace in her arms and legs.
She tied her baby more securely to her back
and wiped the face of her older child with her hands.

Taking a sewing machine from the waiting luggage,
she lifted it straight up and placed it on her head.
Her left hand grasped the handle of a large suitcase,
and she held her child's hand firmly in her right.

Turning from the bus now, she crossed the street
by Patel's Excellent Merchandise Store
as nonchalantly as a giraffe ambling through the bush,
and disappeared behind the dome of the Hindu temple.



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