A Shop in Port Harcourt

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Teak and malachite

And ivory, carved into images

Of exquisite shape and texture

Rendered into the faces of

The dead and the living

Captured pieces of the spirits

Of man and animal

Immobile captives staring out

From the makeshift shelves

Into my humbled eyes


My hands grasp a hand-carved bracelet

Of cream-colored ivory

A young African girlís face

In profile

Her long braids seem to constrict

My fingers

I close my eyes and see

The souls of murdered Elephants

Watching solemnly

 I hear the sound

Of a young girl singing

A sound wild and sorrowful


Beneath all of the artful shapes

Of stone, wood and ivory

Runs the undertow current

Of purposeful past

That gave way to the ornamental present

Shrouded in ignorance and greed

Is the sense of amazement

An unexpected reverence

For the power of Beauty

And the indifference to Pain


I am standing in a little shop

Off a side street, in Port Harcourt

Iím here to buy a trinket

A bauble of remembrance

A symbol of experience

Before the long journey home.


copyright 1999, M. W. Anderson