Clare Hornsby

home: poetry

When it rains in Africa

When it rains in Africa it really rains
As it is supposed to rain.
Tin roofs clatter, rushing drains swirl.
The dogs on the farm at the edge of town
Lie with their backs against the rain-wind
And later, swifts hungrily dart the damp air.

When morning breaks in Africa it really breaks
As expected.
With cacophony of iridescent birds’ alarm-calls
Their anxious hurrying between bushes
Bearing bright fruits.

When people sing in church in Africa they really sing
As we think they should sing.
The sweetnesses, the harmonies fall into place
Unneeded, in nursery-rhyme hymns.
Small children, strung with plastic rosary beads, join in.

After all this, Africa is filled with silent waiting
In the thin shrill sound of cicadas
The daytime-heavy air.
By the side of the road stands a boy in a big shirt
A red-clay-coloured woman crouches with clinging baby
An eagle is poised on a broken tree
Waiting for a car, for rain, for night
And no-one comes, nothing happens by.

The warm weight of Africa
Spreads out around them like a blanket.

I would ask you:
Wrap it around me too
While I wait.