Pelvis sandstone beside symbols of question
stick-traced at sunset, answered by the pause of fox.
Strata of chanting vertebrae west of the Côte d’Ivoire,
late beside the Niger, land of cliffs and chockstones
you have blown through. Saharan winds of harmattan
dicing the ochre earth to scab and craquelcure.
It’s all inside you: the Toloy who lived here,
gathering slow as scree and naming the baobab trees,
avoiding the sun like fungi. One of the locals, village hogon,
watches sidelong as you eye the tortoise-carved stilts
of his son. Symptoms of culture, once traced, confine
the people, you tell him. He calls you, Europa.
Would hurl you from cliffs. Malian francs dropped in his bowl
convince him you are mad. Return to your land of black light
and wind-filled metal, he says. Instead Europa must begin
the steaming off to culture ash— less eye, more sounds:
a trituration echo of millet, stairs of stone troughed to bowls
by the water of feet, grave caves of the Bandiagara
air-trilled by sherd, bone wood, and sacred fingerbell.