Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Bamako, Mali, Leslie Roach


In Mali, I learned

You greet others a


You ask how they are


Ask after their families

Ask if the person before you

Woke up well

You ask about all things at home

And back home if not home

About health and all


And after all that

You still


Et sinon, ça va


So I suffer as a result of being exposed to humanity like that


Being present among humans like

That changed me and I do suffer with

Reverse culture shock


Ever since my return to this place

Where people seem scared of each other

As they walk past brash

Passing each other on the street

As if in a runway


Eyes fixated on some

Place in the distance

Distant future

Averting gaze

At all costs


Humans pass by

Never caring to see each other

Let alone

Get to

Et sinon, ça va


Leslie Roach is an Ottawa-based poet and writer. She is the author of FINISH THIS SENTENCE (Mawenzi House, 2020). Born and raised in Montreal to thoughtful and loving parents who immigrated to Canada from Barbados, Leslie has lived and worked in Italy, Mali, Tanzania, Kenya and Senegal, shaping her perspectives and worldview. She then moved to Ottawa, working in the International and Interparliamentary Affairs directorate of the Parliament of Canada.

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