In Africa, the sunset is not like
Athens where the colors come
out at night, after the city burns
hazy red with car emissions.
Or in London where settling light
is damp like watercolors that
drip and bleed into each other.
And it’s not Utah where the clouds
are powdered dry with pinks,
oranges, purples and the sky stays
lit even after the sun hides
behind the mountains.
The African sunset is like elementary art class
when all the colors of the day
are mixed to black so intense,
so close, I can reach across
the Zambezi River from my lookout,
as the suns falls beyond the dark
line of baobab trees, and touch its warmth.
That day, I collected memories like pigments on the palette of my mind:
Dusty brown children giggling at the mzungu—
white person—baking apple-red in the copper sun;
the yellow washtub in the shade,
not like any yellow back home, their yellow—chikasu;
the sandy road, the grey-sheet-door
hanging like a shroud.
Webster, our guide, tells me to wait,
enters to announce we have come to help
the dying man whose faint breaths seem to stir
the sheet in, out. Gently. In, out,
in, where it stopped and the world
too early went black;
but not my black, their black—skadu
— a shade full of Zambian color and hope
for the sun to rise on Africa again.