To my Father
You’re standing below Mt Kilimanjaro:
a white man from the northern hemisphere
encircled by Masai tribesmen.
A torrid heat blurs the line of Acacia trees
near the mountain foot.
By your boots
lies a backpack and a water bottle
as if you came here to ascend the mountain
with only the clothes on your back.
How anxiously you waited
to see this giant; speckled by montane forests,
heathlands, a desert capped by ice.
How strange yet familiar
to find yourself on maroon soil,
among men in red shukas, wrapped around frames
plied by the Tanzanian sun.
They’ve seen other white men come to dream before.
They’ve felt your shadow in their past;
felt their lands retreat below their feet
in broken treaties, colonial rewrites.
Yet here you are,
convinced your story is not so far
written, willing to abscond your adopted name.
Three strikes of Malaria will later try to claim you,
Swahili will become your first language,
Tanzania your home.
You have your eyes on the summit; you are invisible
from the summit.