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This poem is taken from PN Review 117, Volume 24 Number 1, September - October 1997.

Three Poems James Sutherland-Smith

Nationalism

Once at the end of my first summer here
In a school oddly sited in the middle
Of miles of the fly-whisk heads of maize
Whose rustle could be heard above the jazz
A girl in a sleeveless silver dress
Asked if I would dance the rumba.
Jive I could, waltz I would, but of course
Nothing of Latin-American style
Came to mind or my feet for that matter.

Afterwards I watched her walk away.
Anger made her seem so proud and straight,
High heels ticking, her blonde hair like a star,
Her dress a fire-fly display until she turned
And shook her hips in the rhythm of the rumba.
That was on the plains and much too far
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