Timothy Dodd
Three Days to Quionga

              Most relaxed                               are the hippos
                            when I cross the Rovuma
in dugout           canoe.                             No
immigration forms, uniforms
              when I step out              onto Mozambican
ground.                            Up the hill, through woods
              I walk                                             arriving at two
huts in a clearing                        two hours later.
              I’m told             the weekly jeep might come
                            tomorrow.        So I get my passport
stamp                               befriend the policeman
               who gives me fish                       and a hammock
at twilight                        before the mosquitoes party.
Next afternoon               I’m in the back
              of the jeep                        barreling down a dirt
path                                  limbs of thick trees poking me
inside.                Girls in muciro masks               stare
              as we shoot       past.                  Arriving
at the first village          I see some shacks and one
store with cement floor            where I get permission
              to sleep             with my backpack.
                            During the night                         I dream
of Nampula                    its storefront windows
              carrying only a can of beans                  wearing
a discoloured label.                                 A lack
              in vegetables                                              isn’t all
that uncommon                                                      in life.
              By late morning             a camion comes. I
climb in and head down the tarred road
              in slow              swirls                 around
the potholes                    like craters.     Eight hours
              later                   we reach the empty streets
of Quionga        only now realizing        it’s Ramadan
              and all I can find to eat              is a basket
of 12 small mangoes                    as orange as the Indian
Ocean sunset                                              with all its juices.