From On Edge by Damian Ruth


I might admit to mind
but not to heart quite yet
that this forever littered strip
between the Tasman and Tararuas
finds a deep and driven map
within this edgy cartographer

matching, as best he can,
given lost rhythms in placing
one foot in front of another
on sand shell shingle and pumice
and pieces of driftwood, many smoothed
some still bearing the twistedness
of where they once belonged
or at least have been,

matching, as best he can
given broken rhythms,
the white grey green
of this place with that place
of golden sands and turquoise sheen
orange sun and purple mountains
and the spaces in between.

Imagining Africa

I run my hand over Africa.
It comes away scratched, bloodied, and dry.
I run my hand over Europe,
and it slides off muddied.

Africa is for walking across.
Europe is for standing on.
My Africa feet are hot and sweaty,
sand gritted between the toes,
behind me, nothing.
My Europe feet are cold and wet,
heavy with exhausted mud.

In Africa the sky hangs down
beyond the falling curve of the land.
In Europe it thuds to earth.
They are sewn together.

In Africa I walk towards hills.
In Europe they march into my eyeballs
and human history has glutted every bump and ditch.

Europe has been exporting Europeans for centuries.
Africa has been exporting its guts.

Africans address Africa.
Europeans shift Europe around their bodies.

Europe buries.
Africa crucifies.

A European in Africa remembers Europe.
An African in Europe imagines Africa.

Poems © Damian Ruth 2017