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Blood and Ancestral Voices
by Chris Ingham

A single tree stands white, stark white

Against the dark African plain,

The blood soaked plain of Empires lost.

Leaves, red against the blood red sun,

Siphon the dead's lifeblood through roots

Shallow, clinging to the surface

Of dusty rock; ancient, malign,

Unforgiving. Untameable.

Xhosa blood. Zulu blood. Boer blood.

English blood. Forever blended

Osmotically together

In leaves which rattle like sere bones

In the dry, dusty winds of change.

But the earth turns; it always turns.

The rains will come to cleanse the earth

Of ancient grudges and vanquished dreams.

The leaves will siphon life at last

Through roots now deeply embedded

In the benign African heart.

Ancestral Voices

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." L.P. Hartley.

Driving home against the glare of rainstreaked

Headlights. Radio talk incessantly

There to keep me from drifting into sleep.

I listen, trying not to hear voices

Of a lost generation constantly

Seeking the genealogists advice

On how to hear ancestral voices lost

In mythological longing for belonging.

Displaced, misplaced, clinging to the edges

Of continents dark, they seek concrete links

To a true past, familiar not foreign.

But they fool themselves. Ancestral voices

Speak only in our imagination.


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