“So crossing the river
and walking the path
we came at last to Kumasi.” – Kamau Brathwaite
Prologue: The merchant
Did he arrive at sunset’s orange hour
or with the anonymous midday bustle
markets busy before Sabbath—
and evening or noon height, him,
stranger with strange wares
looking for a berth
in the fabled city.
Who wants cantos from placards of bewildered widows?
Totems to soft bones of decimated embryos?
Androgynous puppets parading obscenely between certain jars?
—Any credit for dark sayings of Babylon, Bhutan or islands of the sea?
Fifth Avenue needs no merchandise of prophets—with their Greek vases their silicon tablets their first editions high speed subways and twin towers—
won’t spare a dime for this third world primitive
his ark of Mesopotamian innocence
his naive style.