What we don’t know, we call Zambia,
exaggerating darkness, seeing juju in each
bent twig and fallen feather, naming
its spirits resentful and malevolent.
We demand cheetah pelts and feathered
crowns, not jeans and Adidas,
bare-breasted women with babies strapped
to their backs. Our Zambezi writhes
in its banks, does not sluggishly shoulder
motorboats. We resent the encroachment
of the global, even as the Zambians
themselves gladly fire up loud generators,
lighting the night and watching Game
of Thrones while chatting on mobiles.
We prefer the Zambia of steatopygian shadows,
drummers, witch doctors, and conical huts,
telling its denizens they know nothing
at all about themselves and should leave
their exposition to those more passionate,
us, to whom Zambezia whispers.
This poem was first published in the poet's book, Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books).
Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has seven chapbooks and three collections out or forthcoming, among them: We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (A collaboration with Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic); Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders); and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Aeolian Harp Folio, The Free State Review, Rattle, and more.
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