A wandering bird's-eye overview of most things even vaguely related to travel, and an opportunity for writers, artists and photographers to contribute the historical, the hysterical, the quirky and quixotic... anything with heart.

3 years ago
When we're all coffee-coloured
When we're all coffee-coloured

I laughed with Celia,

can’t remember what it was about now.

Maybe the flood waters

that got the kitchen floor clean.

Her teeth flashed white

against her dark skin.

Later, a guest at the lodge asked

“How can you talk to her like that?”

I said, laughing:  “I know,

I’m such an Aussie.

I doubt she could understand one word,

what with my accent.”

Only later, did I remember

This Is Africa

(note the capital letters, they are important)

and accent had nothing to do with it.

I am white,

Celia black,

but we were mopping together,

up to our knees

in the same brown water.


Photo: Two Mops  _  Jos Dielis

  1. lostboys 

    A beautifully put, but simple piece of observational prose Helen.
    "T.I.A." indeed.
    I have heard it many times, with Africa often considered a naughty child


    1. helenpatrice 

      Apartheid is alive and well and living in South Africa.


  2. uspandeyz 

    That is as innocuous as the brief tip of a brooding iceberg. Lovely!


    1. mads2cents 

      Helen, I love your poem, so meaningful in the simple image of two women from two different worlds laughing, mopping side by side as if there was no division, as if we were all coffee-colored. Beautifully expressed!


      1. helenpatrice 

        I didn't, and still don't, perceive any difference between Celia and I. In 2010, back when this happened, I was cleaning houses to make ends meet, working three jobs to support my family, and Celia was....well, who she was.