Crossing the Sene River
by Amina Imzine
So deep the river, so light the gaal.
Passengers packed in raw
in the slim canoe. A sweet bean, tasty mafe
smell is cooling in the stewing pot. Larger the river
farther the flooding. Climatic survivors
would agree. Half nautical
mile that deserves forty-minute
fresh attention. The ferry lines of the Sene River
forecast a cloudy schedule. Packed in raw
in the slim ferryboat, our hands
are sweating. Dragonflies
are patrolling, and we sink into the tropical
buzz around us. Unrested mourners
in the old riverboat. Captain Thioubaly’s
belly is waxed with eggnog.
Narrower the river channels, willowy
sails the gaal. Ancient
Sene river shores, ancient November flooding,
and our hands ripple. Or wipe the sweat
off the forehead! Dragonflies dart. The old canoe
cruises smoothly. Deeper the large flood, so slowly the tidal mudflow
ebbs off. Sounds like floating
ghost islands are popping out. Our tidy mafe stewpot
is wrapped into stiff layers, ochre to rusty
coloured batik and dyed-design of shells and sea fish. Captain stops
the motor. The ferry canoe is adrift downstream.
So the gaal is rocking
while passengers are shivering.
Streams are tangling. Floating
Phragmites mats bundle. Frantic hands grasp
and scratch. Dragonflies play dart games.
The ferry canoe is rafting. Blurred-eyes
on board. Our trendy mafe batik
is packed into a basket crafted
of fragrant leaf-and-branch mango tree. The ghost river
archipelago collapse! The reed brooms sweep under
the brackish water. Passengers
turn mute. The slim skipper hip hops quick
between turbid tributaries. Thioubaly’s eyes turn
milky. It’s time to drown, perhaps?
Not yet, my friend, you won’t. Not yet.
A massive sea turtle surfaces at the ebb out of the blue.
As the gaal engine starts buzzing fast
the passengers try to relax. Such greasy buoyancy
is sealed with our lips! Salty hazes engulf
the ghost landscape. Recycled fabric
packs the old ferry. Dragonflies swoop
and sample the tidiest string of
each neat boubou dress fabric.
Upstream, couples of massive
sea turtles are dancing. The mafe gift-basket
is encapsulated in our ebony helmet of bristly Acacia
radiana fabric. Yet Captain Thioubaly
is sailing downstream
to the greenery, precarious shores. An emerald
spiny-lizard screens the reed
stiff lane through the river bank
to the wharf terminal.
Till, bloomy orchards atop shores
waft mango fragrance.