The Rhumba that Follows You: M. K. Angwenyi

M. K. Angwenyi

in this upset reality, your soft and now starless body that could once draw music from the sky with its silence is made an abyss – one that could only be filled by the largeness of your eyes. you, for whom the night flower bloomed without asking. in your wake, the scent of golden sand is left behind, and that of a cold and half-eaten thing rises from your body. i watched you walking away, and an empty redness, like an abandoned anthill, grew within my throat.

but while we were still practicing magic, the world had already slid off the page. the rhumba that follows you like a cloud around your head died the day you left. now the magic is strange, and unsure, and warm within my palms. i tried to string the music back around the centre of your chest. but your blood was quickly turning dark, and your insides quivered in and out of breath, already beginning to cut lose.

in everything you did there was the smell of apples, the sight of rain, the yellow of having lived alone for too long, the paperiness that came with it. At the time of your departure, i saw it all in the air, and you left trails of it dripping from your absence. i thought i could bring you back with these, but all i ever brought back was a hint of (maybe?) the electric guitars, or dub drums. even so, because of the power to recall without ever having been there, i was able to see you a child, and then a man, and then watch your days slur backwards into the giant white sun. and what disappeared at the dawn of your dying lights is still moving around in places you continue to walk through. not like i haven’t seen the cracks in the earth.

but there was a mad night in which all i could hear were footsteps going off in the wrong directions. soon enough, listening close enough, there was a rhythm to it. and at that moment i knew that through the sun, and the clouds, and all your uneven terrains, where you go and where you went, the rhumba follows you still. and i smiled like you do. sideways into the darkness, is this what you’ve been asking? of course i will travel with you.

But time is too large, it can’t be filled up. Everything you plunge into it is stretched and disintegrates. Jean-Paul Sartre 


Michelle K. Angwenyi 

Michelle K. Angwenyi is a writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Brunel Africa International Poetry Prize, and for the 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize. She has a chapbook, Grey Latitudes, forthcoming from Akashic Books and the African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) in 2020.


This poem appears in the Place issue of drr. Order your copy here.

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