Memories of Mali: Part 1

The path wraps all the way around the bungalow and we earn prizes with every lap.


The patch of grass in the front feels like straw. It pokes and scratches.

I imagine Canadian grass, a pillow of green, damp with dew. 

We have a banana tree on the side, in my childish simplicity my dreams consist of soon eating the fruit the tree will bear.

The pool in the back is gone now, overflowing with earth it became a garden. The rubber tree remains – but I don’t climb it – gummy sap gobbed in my hair the only solution ? 

Scissors – I learned my lesson.

I am woken every morning by the chorus of birds, their crescendo of celebration is thundering

Relentlessly cheerful

I am finger painting on the porch today. 

I have become the canvas

Thankfully the tan and black tiles wash clean 

The next rainy season everything will wash clean – at least everything that doesn’t wash away

Torrential downpour, the clouds clap angrily 

Veins of light spread in light seconds across the sky 

We have a black rod that serves like a sponge to soak up any excess electricity that may stray 

God moves around the furniture a lot 

I wonder if he is angry

We feast in the coolness of the dusk and dawn 

It is chased away by the stifling heat 

Of the spotlight sun 

Morning glory muffins bursting with plump raisins, cinnamon & all spice shaded with an umbrella 

I can’t stand them – but we have rules 

Gag and swallow 

orange juice in a glass pitcher 

My thirst is never fully quenched

The smell of market day is ripe and pungent 

I have snapshot memories of garbage, brightly coloured head cloths, green bachés pregnant with people and sinking with the weight.

I hear chickens and the humming of flies.

A fish eye stares at me – it’s mouth gawking 

There’s an icecream man that comes down our street just on the other side of the green plastic gate 

His water isn’t clean, so we don’t get to have any 

A lizard suns himself on a rock, he shifts left and right and darts into a crack 

Maryuma is Fulani, her skin is rich umber, she is kind 

She helps around the house and no matter how hard I strain I cannot remember her face 

Or the face of our guard Isaa – he did laps around the house too 

I do remember the sadness

When I found out that some people had more and some people had less, 

So I offered him some of my allowance –

He awkwardly declined. 

Sadness swept in again sitting in wicker furniture 

The words settled

Moving from Mali.

Soft green grass? 


I am met with familiar excitement

And the Unfamiliar


The day we leave I wait by the banana tree, hoping.

There is no fruit.

One thought on “Memories of Mali: Part 1”

  1. Nelly says:

    Your memories are so accurate. I am amazed as you were so young.

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