Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: This evocative poem is from emerging writer, Leanne Ncube. I first heard this performed at an open-mic event and it blew me away. She drops us into a precarious journey and we rattle along with a car as it makes its way through a decaying city. It’s a powerful comment on postcolonialism, as the writer told me herself, it’s about “the appearance of freedom from colonial power yet the scars that are beneath.”
The car rattles as it hurtles along the pot hole riddled road The brown earth has eaten through the black tar Almost like it refuses to be usurped Against the black and grey surface it looks like scars I swerve through the decaying city Its buildings stand as a reminder of its prosperous past Now all that progress is falling away Coming here is like going back in time The architecture is frozen in some colonial dream Or perhaps this slow crumbling Is the progress? It was never their own It was born of the barrel of the conqueror’s gun Perhaps the city must go back to beginning to start again As I emerge from its heart The remnants of light fall away Flanking the scarred road are streetlights which no longer work Darkness stretches out around me The only light, the full beam of my headlights Far beyond the darkness I think I can hear a faint drumbeat echoing in the night I imagine it is the call of some forgotten ancestor Beckoning the city home
Leanne Ncube is a writer based in Manchester. She is originally Zimbabwean, which informs some of her writing. She writes short stories and poetry and is currently writing her first play. Find her on Instagram @totallyleanne1992.