I was cut out of a chameleon’s belly
Refusing to fall off a tree and burst
On shanties heating themselves up in the sun
That lay like rats massacred in a cornfield
When they found me freezing.
I lay dead marvelling at the maroon on roofs and dust
The knickers hanging in the winds
A heap of garbage to keep the scent alive
The boy in mud ferrying water home in a gallon,
To learn if I could survive a generation.
As it rained kids thrilled their horrors in drains
As some bent backs with noses kissing water
To quench thirst in the heat that followed the rains
And beat dwellers downstream,
Washing rags and dishes to rid the mud and dirt.
A flick of light before I died again
The sun hit on one bright shanty and bounced back
To shine over a group of men and women in queues
Waiting to vote wisely and maybe rise
As a little boy and sewage wondered. If it really mattered.
Beaton Galafa is a Malawian writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His works have appeared in Birds Piled Loosely, Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine, Bhashabandhan Literary Review, The Wagon Magazine, Betrayal, The Seasons and in many other international literary magazines.