The other side

We are the children of Africa,
the brotherhood of unwanted strangers
if our faces don’t mark us our accents will
we keep our heads down and walk next to walls.
The church feeds us,
the university canteen feeds us
we stuff our pockets with sliced bread,
take it home for a stale breakfast,
soak it in instant coffee, black and strong,
made with water from the hot tap.

At night we walk the streets
search the gutters, the pavements.
Stand on cigarette packets
to see if they are empty,
check the return slots in the phone boxes.
If they’re jammed we kick them
and the coins fall like water into our hands.
We climb into skips,
open black bags on rubbish day,
find mattresses, shoes, jackets, a suitcase,
burn fruit boxes in the stove,
watch the snow blow through the streets.

In summer there are figs and cherries,
They’re free, anyone can pick them.
The shelf is lined with bottled fruit,
we find an almond tree.
The days are long and hot.
We are happy for a while.

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1 Response to “The other side”


  1. 1 John Looker June 5, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    My word, that’s moving – the detailed observation I think; that and the simplicity of language.
    I missed this one when you first posted it Kalila, I don’t know why.


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