Then spree

poetry & diary by Nia Davies

Tag: ethiopia

Christmas number one 1984

Band aid

They said
nothing ever grows
but everything comes up here
acacia honey, bees in their own juices,
and rain or rivers do flow,
do you know?

Awash, blue Nile, Omo
sunbirds in the wall, Lalibella –
the oldest Christmas of all.

they sung a parting gift
this gesture
a ticket
a hairy sheen,
wistful mouth dilations

It’s Christmas time,
and do you know?

lakes of tea, tilapia
crocodiles unseen in
the silt of the rift
any rift, our rift
do you know what you’re missing
at all?
at all?

shepherd slinging
meso meso
kumbala kumbala
yeah yo?
chewing-wads, green cheek,
glutinous smiles
and do you know?
for twenty five years

a three-pound song
untorn from its plastic
loosened guilt, was that all?
Twenty five years of missing the point, and
do you know anything about Ethiopia
At all?

Performed as part of Roddy Lumsden’s Christmas number one project at Betty Trotwood, Sunday 13th December.

© Nia Davies, 2009

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Walking Diary – Ethiopia

Turmi, Omo. September 24th 2009

While out in the dust-light, there is flesh in thorns. The prancing feet of gazelles. The dry riverbeds are walkways. Vulture feathers, hoopoe hornbills spring up through the acacia bushes.

Round dwellings of stacked wood, the skin of goat, eight cow-lives. Go-away birds with feathered horns. The skin of women and men making heat in the evening. Skin is splashed to wash off dust.

We burn river driftwood, cross flooded waterways and ant-trails like the Hamer people, red-daubed walkers, returning from the bull jumping ceremony.  Skull of Ox. Scars of devotion on the women’s backs. Lust is catered for here, unlike on the other side of the Omo river. Sandy-footed villages. Mile for mile, women walk different lives in their different clans. Digging for water in the river bed. Men wear feathers in their crowns if they have earned the honour to marry in a bull-jump.

The axe, the machete for splitting wood, a Kalashnikov for your ninth birthday. Beaded arms, necks, wrists, bell-feet. Dusty-eyed travellers are we. Dry wood makes good fires. Termite mounds rise like stelae poking through thorns.

Ants crawl over ankle, brown toe-nails. I am five days from Addis, five fathoms of land-locked lake living. Night is doused with the milky way and distant lightning flashing in a corner of the wide sky. Otherwise fire and headlights are the only light. Sweat and dust makes mud between my limbs.

© Nia Davies, 2009