It is the custom here,
In this African island city,
Once a year,
Since time immemorial,
For men and boys to gather
And shovel load upon load of
Dripping greenblack Niger River mud,
Into wheel barrows
And plaster anew the walls of the mosque.
And now, in this plastic era, a modern aesthetic
Is likewise dredged out of the water,
As ballpoint pens, cassette tapes,
Disposed condoms and forgotten coins
Mix in with the mud and dry in the hot Sun.
And it all remains on display,
An unintentional Rauschenberg.
Pure photo opportunity.
A board of directors lines up
Shovels in hand with gold paint sprayed on.
Shoulder to shoulder
An uncertain line of balance.
Poised for whatever
The sharp shovel point turns up.
—John Sime, Readstown, WI