To a Manager at a Kampala Guest House
08 Jun, 2012 - Betsy Brown
You hang up our clothes on the trees to dry
after washing each piece by hand.
Sometimes I wonder if you sleep,
when you serve us papayas and tea in the morning
and we ask, “how was your sleep?”
and you say, “very short.”
I’ve only known a few women like you–
more concerned about making our beds than sleeping in your own.
You serve us Novida pineapple soda and chicken and chips with your strong shoulders and say,
“you look smart,”
which means I look nice,
I think you look smart, Charlotte,
with your long purple dress and sandals and strong brown jaw,
sweeping the porch to the sound of Cher–
you bring us water when the pipes don’t work,
and sometimes at night you join our mzungu parties
to laugh and decipher our American accents.
I like to make you laugh–
it makes me believe that humor can hop across continents.
And so you hang up my skirt on the trees to dry
as I fall asleep with the fan on,
trying to memorize the grace of your dance steps.