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Goodnight Africa Man
I won’t say much.
You’re the poet. I’m the carer
who says goodnight
to dementia patients. Makes
sure they’ve swallowed
medication. Turns out lights.
I like England because my dreams
are different here, I mean
that they are comfortable.
I wake up younger
if I think about Lucinda,
the Jamaican lady in the wheelchair,
seventy-nine years in her body, one leg
cut off from diabetes but missing
no happiness. Like a child
when she sees me, enough watts
in her face to light huts between woods.
Every night she says hello Africa Man!
and calls me the happiest neighbour she’s ever had.
Her brain tells her
that it is nineteen sixty-something
in Montego Bay and she is living
with her father who is
a butcher: that’s dementia,
an illness with a cleaver.
She asks when her father’s coming back,
I say soon and she sits there looking soulful.
One night she asked if I’ve seen many oceans,
I said that there aren’t any oceans in Uganda,
and I never had time to visit them;
she says that there is always
enough time in our lives to see
what we must.
Raymond Antrobus is a Jamaican-British poet and spoken word educator, born and bred in Hackney, east London. His book, Shapes & Disfigurements of Raymond Antrobus, is published by Burning Eye. He is currently writing his next collection, The Island That's Hard To Find In English.
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