Sunday, April 18, 2010

One Seeing Bela Fleck and Remembering Thembi Ngubane

You came to me blind plucking my insides with your thumbs
Plucking from me memories yet to come
Ocean front freedoms where tourists become what they’ve wished for
The braided hair of my children
The tanned skin of my woman
Are you really blind Tanzania
Are you as quaint if your eyes are opened blue
Are you my brother Tanzania, my mother and father
Will the warm woods of your voice take me from this Antarctica, this America
Will they take me from these harsh sounds and white noise
Move me from this crunch of salted wounds beneath my feet
Move me from this
Pull me from this and take me into you Tanzania
And I will follow you across the Congo, Cameroon and Nigeria
I will become you as you become West Africa
As you become Mali
I am with you
Even though I hear India because my insides don’t know any better
I am with you
Even though I got here on a free ride
I am with you, and you Mali
You are woman
You are open palms bringing me into you Mali
You are movement, hips, voice
Freedom of choice and I am without one
You have me tuned up, strummed , picked
You are a fever and I am crowded streets and dancing
Because that is what happens in places I’ve never been
Places picture painted bright with light and laughter and love
So dance for me on this stage Africa
Play for me Africa
Play me Table Mountain , the harbor and Capetown while I sit sleep and dream
Of a place where there is no shantytown
Where the flats do not exist
Where there never was or will be a district six.
Just play me beauty Africa
Play me Tanzania and Mali
Play me the Waterfront and City bowl
Just play me
And you did
You played me Thembi
From Cape town and its flats
From my radio where she lived and died for me
Where her sound touched my ears like the light of a supernova
Already gone
Her voice was Africa
The rhythm of the rivers and
as smooth as the rocks that lay beneath them
She was music and flow, a time in our mind from which we cannot let go
She was mother and birth and could move the earth when we let her
The sky when the rain falls hard and steady
True like the heat of summer
Like a north wind that cuts you to the bone
The disease that called her body home
True like Aids
Passed on by HIV
By a government in the business of passing by and passing up
Passed on by years of segregation and degradation
of being held down, shut down and strapped down in a tin can shack to call your own
Taking today as if it is your last because it is
Because you know the truth and it is death
It is a microphone and a news story
It a year cut down to 50 hours of tape playing out your voice as you pray with your pollution and live strong
Without even having a bracelet that tells you to do so
You dealt with your devil as if you were a goddess
And you were
And most days I do not remember that because I got shit to do
Because when it gets too heavy I just turn the dial
And when I want to feel better I just watch the commercials and buy something
Because when I am tired of knowing I just turn it off
But as I sat in that auditorium listening to the plucking of my strings and watching Africa play Happy for me, I remembered you.
I remembered you
I remember you

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