2011 First Prize in Poetry
July bears me up onto plains,
onto pounded, dusty roads,
where banana plants hunch with ripeness.
On the way to market in Arusha,
I feel the rhythms of chickens stowed
under seats, of jam pots, of rice and sugar.
As the car clings to the earth,
I speak to the quick warmth in a man’s face.
My words thread into a halting tune.
Safi sana, he says.
Very clean, your language.
The land answers in a moan,
and in the back seat, a child sucks an orange
like a fire, compressed.