Onion soup and coffee and cassava—
breakfast in Butare—as the morning sun
saunters across the complicit sky,
leaving only the amputee beggar woman,
scurrying along the road on knees and elbows
to remind the morning of the night.
Opposite me, a young Dutch couple
wearing matching T-shirts proclaiming peace and love,
and matching healthy glows. They’ve read Kerouac’s
On the Road in Dutch, and are living out
their translation of the text, backpacking
through Africa, sleeping by the road
in parks and forests, one last moment of freedom
before taking on adult responsibilities.
The morning TV news reports last night’s flare-up
of armed conflict at the border
which they treat as an interesting fact
not important information. It was like watching
a small pink rubber ball bouncing
onto a trafficked street followed by
a small boy with a goofy smile and waiting
in frozen fascination, for the inevitable.