Arrival at Mombasa
At Mombasa after rain the potholes pool red
blood spotting the runway,
shining like clots in the sideways zinc-glint of sun,
slicing through clouds the colour of bruises.
You’ve been here before. I know.
But not by air,
by open car, too-fast spraying rusted earth along dust roads
coming from Nairobi.
Too fast to smell the resin-high frangipane blossom
or pick mangoes,
growing wild as blackberries in a hedgerow.
Too fast to the cobalt sea.
Your knuckles are white-boned gripping my hand
thin skin soft stretched
as the wheels skid on rain,
but we slow to standing
and the scent of Kenya begins to seep in through the cracks:
a sweet tang of hot damp air,
of earth-mud and diesel.