READING THE SIGNS by Gary Jermyn

October 18th, 2018

A long-time friend and supporter, Gary wrote this poem inspired by his visit to Uganda back in 2011. He kindly recited it at our recent fundraising School Dinner.

READING THE SIGNS

when I close my eyes I see the rusty red railway-crossing sign
a red X with “RAILWAY CROSSING” in white lettering
though no train runs here now
and the line is overgrown

beyond the sign a red dirt road climbs to a hill
and a young boy walks towards me
gracefully balancing a yellow plastic container
on his head -
something I could never do -
brown cow watches him from behind a bush
goats graze nearby

somewhere else in Africa
Moshe in Tanzania I think
there is another sign
on the edge of the town
at a busy roundabout
“WATER IS LIFE”

and in this moment
life for this boy is bringing the water
down the hill
to home

near to me now
a woman rises from the field of cotton
a baby half-hidden on her back
she calls to the boy with the water –
words I do not understand -
and they smile and wave to each other across the ditch

in the sky there are birds flying
and though they are not
I think of them as magpies
scattering black and white
against the blue

there are two of them
two magpies
“TWO FOR JOY”

(c) Gary Jermyn 4 April 2011

Download here: Reading the Signs

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