When I have to leave you
This jewel of a continent
In this land where man was born
And I am at customs
Where I must declare
What I have taken away with me.
I shall still keep secret
All the golden days
The silver nights
The huge opal moon
Even the delta's lily necklace,
I shall not divulge.
Nor shall I reveal my knowledge
Of the aquamarine African skies
The gems of local lore
From the guides and from Bill
I'll treasure always the ruby glow
Of many happy sundowns
The distant emerald horizons
Full of topaz light upon the tree tops.
I will not discuss my travels
Over miles of waterways
Rich with 90 day papyrus reeds
And full of a million future flowers...
A promise of the wealth ahead.
All these things I shall keep for myself.
And I won't show them my diamond-less hands
For fear they might discover
The precious African dust
Yet under my fingernails -
And then they will begin to suspect
How enriched I have become
Here - on this jewel of a continent -
The land where man was born.
Header art by T. Guzzio. Original photo by D. Benjamin.
CONNECT WITH WENDY:
This poem, "Clearing Customs", by Wendy Gifford, was inspired by a trip to South Africa when she was poling around in the Okavango Delta in a mokoro, (a dugout canoe), covered with thousands of stick bugs and followed by a cloud of pesky no-see-ems. It was jotted down with a borrowed pencil on the blank sides of her American Express charge slips as she paddled along, lest she forget her musings before returning at dusk to camp. Wendy lives in Connecticut with her husband, Gerald. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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