Journey to a Sacred Place

Seasoned travellers search for a village [1] and its ways

Whose people look for hopes beyond horizons

In the fluorescence of the city

That fades into its overcrowded mirage

With settlements squatting the roadside [2]

Amid plastic drums awaiting refuelling

And answers from ancestral spirits.


Only the fire-flies sparkle, flashing their messages,

Mating in the dark and challenging our fears

With courage mustered for the journey

While mica schist glistens with erosion's millennia

Under beads of sweat dripping onto a spider's web

Ensnaring in the intrigue of Mr Muffet's meal

Fossilised into corn that snaps, crackles and pops. [3]


And the Milky Way gleams with its own smile

As the next generation finds its way through the galaxy

With meteorites bungee-jumping

Into the split-second inferno of destruction

As yesterday's rays arrive on time

In light years of travel to a land with fewer clocks [4]

Wanting to be one, and two to be twelve plus two. [5]


But sunlight fractures the named river [6]

Plunging down the gorge, bouncing back droplets

Iridescent as it splits into seven strands [7]

With the spectrum become a rainbow

Encircling a family momentarily in love

But quickly fading in the evanescence of another surge

Of deepening affections.


That same sun, recreated, pierces cross beams

Crucified against the sky of an empty hill [8]

Deserted by fears of assembly under banning orders

As the outbreak [9] is contained by separation and isolation

With a red-light mast for a mobile phone alongside,

Connecting electronically to each other

But not yet to our maker.


She is one of those once here, [10]

Now discovered at the end of a beaten track

Welcomed, received and accepted, loving and loved,

At home in the eternal city of her own village

Attended by the angels of her dreams [11]

To whom she ministers with simplicity

When they finally arrive.


Tears glisten the eyes of a face

Disfigured by Naaman's bacteria, [12]

Yet sparing the smile of contentment

Still intact with a personality

That rears a child [13] in the past perfect

With remnants of a hand, repeatedly wounded,

But a face radiant with the joy of Easter morning. [14]



April 2007


[1] Rebecca Mutanti's village, south of Pemba

[2] Reminiscent of the visit to Kalama in Lusaka

[3] Jonathan loved his Rice Krispies

[4] 'Zambian time and international time.'

[5] One Zambia, one nation; our family expanded to two plus Churchill and Brockham Bear

[6] The Zambesi

[7] The seven colours of the rainbow, and Devil's Cataract, Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow Falls, Armchair Falls and the Eastern Cataract. (Note the form of sevens)

[8] Easter Hill (Kalvali), Chikankata

[9] A cholera outbreak affected the Good Friday /Easter meetings

[10] Rebecca and other leprosy patients, now relocated back home

[11] Rebecca had dreamed that she would be visited by angels; Livingstone wrote of Victoria Falls - 'On sights as beautiful as this, angels in their flight must have gazed.'

[12] Mycobacterium leprae

[13] Fatima Mutanti

[14] Rebecca did not know it was Easter Day!