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This poem is taken from PN Review 81, Volume 18 Number 1, September - October 1991.

Four Poems Alison Brackenbury

NEAR KARIBA

In the small plane to Bumi
rattling from runways, I saw
a small table, spread with yellow, stand
in the green of the rain, of tough African grass
by the scrub, by the tarmac, the blue frown of cloud.

It is Livingstone's table, scratched with his sweat
and immaculate lines as he sketches his plan
for coffee plantations in view of the Falls.
The hippo munch glossy sprays, night after night.

It is the camp table where Rhodes sits to meet
with the Matabele, who nod, who make peace.
They are given drains; God; bungalows.
Still the nightjar accuses, a whirling white bat.

It is a table upon the rough lawn
of the house in the deep wood, the tollkeeper's house
...


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