Angwenyi, Michelle K. “Gray Latitudes.”
Transnational Literature. Vol. 13, Oct 2021
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Michelle K. Angwenyi

Part II: Gray Latitudes

In this place of colliding times,
no word for it in childhood, and unrecognizable in this dusk,
Nairobi comes and goes.
I had the word for it yesterday,
and the need that follows, to remember that feeling:
too-long trousers, newspaper kites, lost boys
and now, grown-up absences via the labyrinths of other cities.
There must be a word in which all these lie––
and through the years-long dust––
it rises from that airless space on the roof.
Fills the city with an unnameable grief.
The evenings have never changed wherever you are.
That dread
of being found. But just yesterday,
I learnt how to think of the pigeons only, in the sunset,
the ones I would see perched on the orange brick––
and nothing else.
Not even the wooden ones in the house, empty,
not the man they kept company.
But when I remember him, sitting by the ocean, drinking a warm beer,
I only think of the man as one of many men,
still a lost boy––and this is the dust of boyhood:
dancing women of the water, attempts at that washing away,
the evening before you meet God at last, years into your death.

Michelle K. Angwenyi

Michelle K. Angwenyi’s writing explores time and memory. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Brunel Africa International Poetry Prize, and for the 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize. Michelle is the author of Gray Latitudes (Akashic Books, 2020). She is a Centre for Arts, Design and Social Research Fellow.

“Part II: Gray Latitudes” first appeared in Gray Latitudes.