The Banana Shot
for Fatima Umar



All the while you want to reach across the table
Place your thumb on her dimple
And say
—O Fati of the golden bed
Zahra of incense and mirrors,
Let me write a verse in sand
Show you a trick with words
That might be true
That I learned to do with a knife

But you say nothing

Her lips move and you think of the undressing of fruit
And long retired Italian footballers


There must be a spider at the centre of the universe
That weaves the ways of men, that shapes the path
Whose breath is the wind that sets us to sea
In this life of meetings and partings

Finger prints are microcosmic
A dimple is space


Roberto Carlos stands between heaven and earth
The wall of death before him, seeking immortality
The cheers of men behind him, the Spider
Leads the ball home to goal
As I to her


I fly a kite over the great Sahara, wonder
Where Fati is right now, if she’d look
Up, if she’d see me thinking
Of her.


Richard Ali is a Nigerian author and member of @JaladaAfrica. His debut collection, “The Anguish and Vigilance of Things” will be published by Konya Shamsrumi (Lagos).

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