I lean against a Baobab

It was in the Ruaha region of Tanzania that a Maasai woman kindly agreed to pose for a photograph. I do not recollect her name now but in every photo, she appeared to be in shy contemplation. Here is one in which she leans against the baobob, while adorned in the collar jewellery that the Maasai are also known for. I wrote a poem for her, to her graceful beauty; serenely contemplative she appears.

I lean against a Baobab


Whispers I sent out at dawn latched
on to the solitary sun trailing
the arc of a common time
in a sky the hue of gold in grass.
The land leans on the baobab
in a dust storm of wheels and lenses.
Wheels and lenses.

When the dust settles, I will dust
my shuka and the goats will return
home, to comfort my eyes that flow
the spate of the Great Ruaha,
seeping secretly into the baobab
I have chores to do, a shuka to darn.
A shuka to darn.

Will they buy the beads I strung
as I rocked Naeku on my back,
to make circles of day and circles
of night, as wide as the baobab,
in the colour of clouds, the colour of sky.
There's colour to stars in a darkened night.
A darkened night.

Killeleshua is fragrant in thousand leaves
Am I not worth more than thirteen Zebu?
The watering hole was flecked in hippos
and the firewood is the colour of dusk
abundantly generous as the baobab
Time, a viscous passing of the sweetest honey.
The sweetest honey.

Notes:

Zebu cattle ~ Maasai cattle that are well adapted to semi arid conditions. Bride price or dowry is set in cattle and paid to the family of the bride.

Killeleshua [1] [Tarchonanthus camphoratus L.]~ A plant the leaves of which are used in bedding or as a deodorant or for fragrance. It smells really lovely.

Shuka ~ garment worn by Maasai, an adaptation of the Scottish tartan

Baobab [2]~ Adansonia digitata, most long lived of the vascular plants and dots the savannas of Africa. Baobab wood has a high water content (up to 79%) and low wood density (0.09-0.17 g · cm(-3)).

Naeku [3] ~ Born in the early morning, the name of a Maasai girl born at dawn

References:

[1]Plant Use of the Maasai of Sekenani Valley, Maasai Mara, Kenya ~https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7105760_Plant_Use_of_the_Maasai_of_Sekenani_Valley_Maasai_Mara_Kenya (retrieved:22/Apr/2021)

[2]Baobab~https://bsapubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3732/ajb.93.9.1251

[3]Maasai names ~https://www.tuko.co.ke/300890-beautiful-maasai-names-meanings.html

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