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Charlotte sometimes

and sometimes, Charlotte, sometimes
I dream of Zanzibar,
and my pillow smells of cloves,
of nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper,
around me rooms, large and bare,
and raffia rugs tickle my feet

my dream, Charlotte, feels like
your pink silk dressing gown
and wears your fragrance
even when I dream that I taste salt
on your white face,
the salt of tidy breezes
and your enslaving tears

and then, Charlotte, you’re gone,
and I am wandering, alone,
through narrow, empty streets,
a ghost in a deserted Stone Town,
I pass before withered houses,
their blue paint peeling off the walls,
I pass before the House of Wonders,
half-crumbling now, like our hopes

and sometimes, Charlotte, sometimes
I long for those monsoon afternoons
when we had tea and watched
brave butterflies rise up
from our sandy beach
into the heavy rain, the black clouds,
they looked like white and yellow,
golden, green and red dots
of a tale we still had to invent

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