The slash of red of cardinals playing in the snow,
Conflicts with memories of the Africa I know.
My mind drifts away from winters cold and cruel,
To summers where the bright sun is the fuel
That fires the growth of grass and fever trees,
Egret perches, and where giraffe can feed with ease.
In a world of snow and slush, I cannot smell,
Like I could where in the land I used to dwell.
The sweet scent of first rain on arid earth
That brings the flying ants to end the dearth
Of food for fiscal shrikes and swallows,
Who swoop the swarms as oft as daylight allows.
There is another scent, offensive as it seems
At first brings back memories of acrid smoke and beams
Of light piercing the thatch of mud hut roof,
To show cold embers on the floor, the proof
Of fires that cooked pots of meal and cobs of corn.
These are the scents of that far land where I was born.
In a land heavily covered in a carpet of snow,
Sounds are muffled and seldom grow
To match the sounds from that place afar,
Like the sad call of the road squatting night jar
And call of the weaver, baby eaten by a snake, and bereft.
These are the sights, the sounds and smells of the land I left.