The Land of Illusionary Milk and Honey Read by Andrew Manyika

Above the muffled shrieks of famine and chattering teeth, the cartographer called to me to explore
his map of a honeyed land’s body.
On it, rivers meandered into a utopia of dark blues.
The contours were tally marks alluding to the existence of plenty.
The soil a minister with open hands – always ready to give.
The offspring of the land, those with two and four legs alike wanted for nothing.
From this piece of paper I could hear them gathered in song. A call and response led by different
species of birds. Prides and flocks were drummers - stamping their feet to ensure they all kept time.
Crickets were caught in a state of constant ululation.

I wanted to go there. I really needed to go there.
Bask in the nectar promises of this land.

But when I arrived
All I saw of the landscape was its rancid torso.
The rivers had become prisoners condemned to an eternity of stillness. The contours were scars,
tallying the countless years of trauma.
The soil had hardened, open hands were now closed fists.
No songs were heard.
No musicians were in sight.

Below worn-out soles,
pus reeking desolation marked the roads upon which those like me must have travelled.
This country is brim-filled with fungus from swollen feet
joined with blood oozing from fingers pointed at men that know no compass
I was attacked by the closed fists of the land.
White phosphorus powdered the hands of these brothers who burnt my legs then bellowed at me to
leave.
All words designed for me were complicit in a violent teasing.
Kwerekwere
Recreation of a sacred tongue resulting in delocalised body parts.
The hand that encompasses the wandering finger should be cut off too. Not just my head.
Kwerekwere…

It is said by those of this land that bodies of those not naturalized bloom like weeds
Whose stems should be sheered and leaves dislodged.
We will burn their roots if they do not return to them.
Greet them with jewels, a necklace of hardened rubber.

I have grown weary of places that sing to from silenced maps.

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