On the creaking carousel of an anonymous airport
questions jostle for space, with insecticide-treated luggage:
bags laden with anti-malarial, flags, fair-trade guilt, cameras,

condoms, (newspaper) cuttings, alpha-
bet letters waiting to be assembled into fresh acronyms
to replace EU/ AIDS/ AGOA/ NGO.

Your own bag will contain only a notebook, a fable
(invisible to Customs) about lions & hunters
& stories that will not forgive silence.

In the days to come your dreams will collide
with deadlines, as you pursue meaning
across dusty heatscapes imbued with hustle.

After Kapuszinski, Livingstone, Marlowe, Naipaul
& Oudney, comes Park. ‘P’ is also for Pilgrim:
you and your vow to tell of defiant beauty.

This A—Z of travels
(‘in the Interior of Africa’)
will be written forever.

The hardest bit is being trapped
before a blank screen, struggling to replace
fevered footprints with placid typeface

while, around you, time—a sun-lit bloc
of distant African time—dances
to heady blends of afropiano.

Back in the terminal, more questions
show up—to say goodbye, jostle for space
with out-bound luggage: vuvuzelas, wooden gods,

recipes, fair-trade copper, blood-diamonds—
all cagily scanning for the unmanned
signs marked Exit. E

Tolu Ogunlesi’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Wasafiri, Transition, Sable, VLQ, and Eclectica. He was shortlisted for a 2023 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, and is the winner of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize as well as a PEN/Studzinski Literary Award. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria.