The colors of Liberia

The colors of Liberia.

By Nora Watson - Peace Corps Volunteer, Liberia (2011-2013)

In painting Liberia,
a god (like Picasso and
Rembrandt and Bacon
Before Him) used
1) Ochre
For the dust, for the mud
Rivers every afternoon
For the rain light
And the edges of the
Roof shadows, and for the
Moments when I glance from
My book to find myself
Suddenly in Africa.
2) Primary blue
For the children
And their houses,
For the sky
At high noon, for the
Rain smell,
And the soup bowl.
3) Hunter's green
For the bush and the plum tree
Leaves, for bassa jamba
And the seats of motorcycles,
For copybooks and to stain
The cutlass blades.
4) White
The thin kind of
Old, clean t-shirts and coconut water
The rich kind of butter rice
And whitewash and chalk
5) And brown, rich brown without
Name except skin and cacao and
Ratan and jungle night smell
And chicken bone and cassava.


This poem was selected as a finalist in the returned Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. It was selected from more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.

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