i sit in this rusty automobile
tossed and jostled down burdened roads,
catching glimpses of the glittering sine saloum river.
its salty waters call my name.
the train tracks beckon me east.
the baobabs urge me to stay --
telling me that i will be safe lying deep beneath their roots.
yet wisps of a life i once knew reach me too --
blown in from across the atlantic ocean.
i am covered in a film of sweat and dust.
i lean my forehead against the window,
dreaming of east coast windows that are cold and frosty.
but this one brings me no relief
and instead, my head bounces against the smudged glass
as the car hurtles mercilessly down a path i've grown to know.
like i once knew the subways of new york.
we pass through towns and villages,
names and facades i know but have never known.
sometimes when i am traveling down this road --
exhausted from days of trying,
i pretend that i am never coming back.
and then --
my heart aches.
they say -- you don't remember me? you don't remember my name?
and i -- tired and frustrated and clawing at memory to remember,
wish i could just say -- yet you never even really learned mine.
who is this person you've made for me?!
dumb and mute and unaware of your annals of history.
i've come to know you
and what i wanted from you, i never got.
but, i have learned to love you.
you tired me
you exhaust me
you berate me, humiliate me, sicken me.
but you also thrill me
and show me
and teach me
and incite within me
a wisdom i would not have learned
in the slush filled asphalt streets
of modern cities with narrow passageways and looming shadows.
it could not have come from the mechanized world --
the place that i call home.
it can only come from.
you, the sine-saloum, the people, the battered road,