© Allan Markin

Kisumu, Kenya
at the Colonial Hotel
in the bar
melancholic music is playing
       she says “my name is Mary
like in the Bible”
       she is not biblical
I order two beers, Tusker Export
       she offers to take me to my room
for an African massage
       I decline, politely
she exposes her inner thigh
       nicely contoured but scarred
by a purple sore
I try to look disinterested
she declares “me no fuck, fuck no good”
       I agree, with some reluctance
she rubs her inner thighs
her idea of an African massage
I see the bartender shaking his head
he’s seen this before
Mary tries to look sad, mutters something about
supporting her children
I spit out the bait and we part
       after another beer
me to my steaming room
with the torn mosquito net
she to the dark rainy street
where shadows hide purple sores
that night there is an intense tropical storm
that machine-gunned rain against the window
in the morning the walls are covered with geckos
      she is nowhere to be seen
the melancholic music plays on
the melancholic music plays on

Allan Markin September 5, 2021