The Milkman of Khartoum


It is evening and in the street

the donkey cart comes to the gate

of a mud house coloured light orange

in this fading light.  I am in a high window;

No one sees me. I am an angel or a bird.


A small man unwraps his legs, hops down

and honks a rubber horn; it is like the sound

of horns clowns use in the circus.

He honks it just three times.

He does not come to the gate, but

quickly from inside, still arranging her veil

a young girl slips into the tiny courtyard,

cemented with glass and tile and pebbles,

a kingdom between the bricks and the road.


The little man has three big urns of thin copper.

They are brimming with fresh goat’s milk.

He ladels a portion into a cup and takes

the cup to the gate, pouring just so much

into the bowl the girl offers.  She offers,

he pours just so, shway shway and saves a dribble

for  the urn when he returns to the cart.

I am an angel or a bird, but I do not

see her disappear into the brick house.

The milkman takes his position askew

the cartbed, crosses this thin legs and flicks

the donkey into motion with a hiss.





2 thoughts on “The Milkman of Khartoum

  1. I feel as if I’m there watching from a high window – such a powerfully dramatic image you paint. I can hear or imagine the milk gurgling into the cup – but I do not see the girl with the veil disappear either.

  2. Has anybody, say you, Joe, got a postal address for Steffilou Pacifisat Fish McGuire please? I can’t afford the air-fare to wish her a happy birthday in person & the post to the far side of the world takes a little bit of time. Luv, f.

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