I Am Fine

Sensory imagery on the way to school in Eswatini.

Vocabulary:

Sisi: the word for sister in SiSwati


By Timothy Sandoe - Peace Corps Volunteer, Eswatini (2009 - 2012)

Morning... Off to school,

My host sister waits for me

Barefoot, she swings the plastic bag that holds her books,

Every step a skip, she brims with energy,

“How are you, sisi?” I ask

“I am fine,” she recites, with a smile.

Sounds fill the air:

Roosters crowing, hens clucking,

Pigs grunting, cattle mooing

Dogs barking, babies babbling,

Each step rustling leaves,

So much life, so much is here.

Passing the three wives as they work

The first washes the three-legged pot,

The second sweeps the yard,

The third tends the open fire,

We greet: “How are you?”

“We are fine.”

We are blocked by a bull,

Strayed from the herd,

Straddling the path's ridges,

Thick horns, and eyes saying:

“I don't want to move,”

But with a whistle, reluctantly, he moves on.

We reach the main road,

As a minibus passes the dust rises and settles,

We approach the school gate,

Children of all shapes and sizes crowd behind,

Turning, the morning sun glistens in my eyes,

I smile and ask:

“How are you?”

“I am fine.”

“How are you?”

“I am fine.”

“How are you?”

“I am fine.”

“I am fine.”

“I am fine.”


This poem was entered in the returned Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. The contest received more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.

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