I Have Gone to Keta: Daytrip - Rob Taylor

"I want to go to Keta
before it’s washed away
before the palm trees wither
and drown outside the bay"

- “I want to go to Keta,” Kobena Eyi Acquah

They are walking on water in Keta Lagoon
as we pull into town then cross the peninsula
to face the Atlantic from atop the boulders
they stacked here to fix the shoreline in this place
where we stand and watch the ocean swell in, then away
revealing chunks of concrete, shattered fingers
of rebar – startling in their permanence –

then turn and wander past what remains
of the half-drowned castle and children splashing
fine sand before it, chasing
a ball of vulcanized white gold
with sparks in their eyes

then on through the town
pocked with puddles and troughs
of water that expand with every turn
until the buildings give way to lagoon,
sloshing among crumbling cement walls
and briny car parts and a man wading in water
up to his ankles who pulls small, netted fish
out of what was once his neighbour’s living room
and smiles mildly, then turns away –
in the distance more men dragging
nets home, water shimmering
under their feet (a trick of the eye,
a flash of the miraculous that surfaces
in the mind at times then disappears below)

then back to the center of town
where the power remains off and lunch
is warm beer and biscuits at the pub
where drunks slam sticky handfuls
of banku onto our table and a miserably
sober man apologises for all the drunks
and power outages and sloppy banku of Africa
then out again to the glare of the street,
towards the station, past the troop of glistening
boys back from the shore, shouting
and grinning, their ball skipping
ahead, a polished stone

and we are away, trotro engine thumping
and wheezing desperately as we plod
our course back to the mainland along
the edge of the now empty lagoon,
the fishermen home with their children
and wives, who, I imagine, are rinsing
dishes and humming the tunes
to childhood songs whose words
they can no longer recall, whose melodies
they thought they’d long ago forgotten.

Originally published in "The Other Side of Ourselves", Cormorant Books, 2011. Reprinted by permission of the author.

1 comment:

LS said...

Thanks Rob,

for stopping by Keta and letting us know. Your poem fulfills Kobena Eyi Acquah's wish. It's strange what countries would do to keep an inch of territory, and yet give up easily when it is nature that does the taking. It doesn't help that the sea is unrelenting, taking away even what's been done to stop it. One day, what you imagine today may become a reality, and then they would be left holding on to their memories.

It is also worrying that the castle is half drowned. What happens when we finally decide to talk about that other tragedy in our past, slavery?

Theirs is the stuff out of which you have the stories, legends and histories of migration. Once again thanks.