Saturday, October 22, 2016
Among red-brick ruins
Walking on the mountain, we start to follow
a narrow path between the bushes
A ragged vagrant comes towards us from behind a rock,
holds out a hopeful hand
“I used to stay here,” he says. ”My friends and I .
Once there was a zoo here on this mountain slope
A zoo and a University.
Girls in short skirts, bright tops and scarves, boys in Tshirts and jeans
would walk between the cages of jackals, porcupines and monkeys
A lonely mangy lion lived here behind a fenc e of stakes
A hollow block of stained cement made him a sort of-den
He sometimes used to give out strangled roars
to scare us students working late at night
This space here was the wildebeest and zebra paddock and
this tangled ivy covered stone of lecture halls
Those rusted iron boilers and that broken chimney –pipe
are all that’s left of what used, long ago, to be
the faculty of engineering .
We always sat here on these steps. reading and chatting
We sat here between classes. and after seminars
Then later we all just sat here
It was the lion that left first and then the zebras and the monkeys.
I saw my friends off at the airport.
others caught the Greyhound.
I was left behind.
They are so young, so brave, so beautiful
Facing shields and bullets with their stones
and their buckets of poo.
shouting incomprehensible,t courageous words
as they break barriers ,beat down towers,
force gates to open up for every -one. l.
But when they get inside the walls they’ll find
the halls of learning have dissolved,
They’ve turned to mist and floated off into the cloud.
While the pale conquerors they so despise
have been invaded in their turn, been colonised
by dark hordes from the Middle East and Africa