Friday, February 24, 2017

Poetry Friday: In a Cloud of Dust

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Karen Edmisten.

I read Alma Fullerton's beautiful picture book this week. Though I've never been to Africa myself, I have children who have spent time in Senegal and Nigeria and friends who live in Kenya and South Africa. So while my sense of the landscape and culture of these countries comes second hand, there is  something of my heart invested there.

My South African friend Wilna (pronounced vulna) in Zimbabwe.

My son and grandson at the American International School in Nigeria.

In a Cloud of Dust begins...

       In a Tanzanian village, 
       a little schoolhouse sits
       at the end of a dusty road.

Such simplicity, and yet, already these few words and Brian Deines' deftly muted illustrations place me solidly on this dusty road. The author captures the characters, their friendships, their dependence on on another, and the hardships they face with the joyful spirit of an African village. A really beautiful book. 

View more illustrations here.
Visit Alma Fullerton's author page here.
Find more art from Brian Deines here.

From Peace Corps Writers Online Magazine, 2005 issue

By the Light of the Moon
by Carrie Young (Mali 2000–01)

How free is the ocean
Or the moon

The village was off the road
And away from the world
Like a soft breeze
Blowing across the ground
Felt only by the Earth
At the bottom of the mountain
That calls it home

The beauty of the place
Equaled by the difficulties
Surrounding this life
Filled with the noise of natural things-
The pounding of grain like thunder,
Roosters crowing at every mood of the sun,
Fires crackling with ancient memories,
Children laughing and disappearing into tall grasses

And almost every night
The sound of a bilaphone
Playing at a fete somewhere
On another side of the village
Sending out a deep and hyper sound
That somehow found its way to me
Even in the thick, dark air of Africa

People dressed in bright fabrics
Were dancing until the dirt stirred
Into a fog around them
And all that was hard about the days
Trickled down their faces
In sweat like tears

I could see them in my mind
As I lay in a room lit quietly by candles
My book resting next to me
While I joined them somewhere
In that fog of dirt and freedom

Freedom for muscles
That were bent and tired
From hours spent in the fields
And freedom from a mind
That was never allowed to forget
The weightless breath of fate
Waiting in the wind


  1. Beautiful poem and the illustrations make me feel the dust.

  2. I'll have to look for this book. Thanks for featuring it and sharing the beautiful poem.

  3. I have never had the opportunity to explore Africa either, so I love being able to explore and experience new countries through such evocative poetry and imagery.

  4. "And all that was hard about the days
    Trickled down their faces
    In sweat like tears"
    Thanks for sharing this, Dori!

  5. Thank you for sharing this wonderful book and poems! I have been to Egypt when I was young but I would love to explore more of Africa!

  6. Hi Doraine, I'll have to look for this book. Thanks for featuring it today!

  7. Doraine, what a beautiful post. Like you, I have never experienced Africa first-hand, but quite a bit second-hand (my nephew married a beautiful Rwandan girl and even hearing her talk transports me). I will be on the hunt for this book.

  8. what a lovely introduction to Alma's book. Something of your heart is there....and so lovingly shared with us. Thank you!
    I've had the good fortune to meet Alma and I cannot but help to love every one of her projects especially because of the energy she pours into them. I can tell from the poet of 'By the Light of the Moon' that places in Africa hold more than just location...there is a connection of place and people and spirit that is unique. I would so love to go.
    Have a great week!

  9. I'll find that book, Doraine, and how great that you found a poem to accompany it, too. It's lovely, the aura coming from it.

  10. Thanks for a great pairing of book and poem, Doraine. The words of the poem are haunting, reminding me of places I've been. Love the picture of your son and grandson. Like your children, mine have also made the world a smaller place.

  11. What a perfect match of poem and picture book. There is something about Africa that catches hearts - partly the beauty of the countryside, but a big part also the beauty of the human spirit beaming out of the faces of those hardworking people.

  12. What beautiful words! thank you, Doraine. We just watched the movie Queen of Katwe, which is set in Uganda. The visuals of the movie are very similar to this poem. Maybe someday you will go to Africa ??? xo