Poets of Australia
Love On Safari
Oh, there’s game, lions, hyenas,
elephants back beyond trees,
a mother giraffe with her baby,
but this is why she’s here,
this rendezvous in the dark,
she can see it, now. Unzipping
her tent and drawing him in,
breathing the smell of him.
Steve. Who sears steaks for their
dinner and brews bitter coffee
only his voice sweetens, “Good
morning, Jambo, how are you?”
A small, perfect man, wearing
clothes he’s been given, ancient
T-shirt, older Levis. He smiled
when she asked if he’d come:
“Almost too late, Madam.”
But not quite. Away off
in the distance an owl cries,
they both hear it. “Here”, she says,
“quick”, reaching up to his face,
the light stubble-nap of his cheek
and small, soft ear-lobes.
“Home”. “Back”. “Belonging”.
He knows all about these words.
He has sharpened his life to a point
on these words. As a boy he was happy
to play in the streets of Kingston
and they were sufficient.
Then he learned where he’d come from
a long time ago, in another life.
The words glowed in the distance.
Now he lives on land set aside
by Haile Selassie, Ras Tafari, teasing
grain from dry laterite: hard work
a great way off. Like others, he stayed
through war and disastrous famine,
a few lost their children, even,
the same broad smile across their faces,
to be back “where they came from once”.
Every night, they smoke weed and praise
Jah, enduring, almighty. Bob Marley, loud,
battles static with that sweet voice of his.
Some say it carries to Jamaica.
Andrew Peek lives in Launceston, Tasmania. Before moving to Australia, he spent three years in Nigeria, teaching and acting with a travelling theatre company. Since 1981, he has published poetry, short stories and reviews in many Australian newspapers and journals and also broadcast on Radio National, regional and community radio stations in Tasmania and NSW. He teaches creative writing and African literature at the University of Tasmania. In 2003, The Calabar Transcript was published by Five Islands Press, Wollongong, NSW, These poems are from this collection.
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