J Brooke
Once in Africa, I think Ghana, though it may have been Chad, at times I find molecule melodic moments difficult to recall, though because the sea edged the earth and there was civil war, I now know it was there, along the East Coast, across the Red Sea, some way from Yemen. It was distant from the Algiers desert, not near Tamanrasset and the nomads seeking the silk road.  It was a place of Berber tribes draped in cobalt capes, razor red robes, veils and along the camels load, the salt trails the nomadic tribes had once slept within and now still roam at will. There, I saw a Maori woman hued of cinnamon tinting of her skin, bandolier and cartridges strapped to her breasts and coal and lawless eyes. She whispered to me that once she had lived past Suez along the sands of Syria, a different person, living as a charlatan, consumed within her lies.

Though I thought this odd, for tribal women, Nubians of war, mostly from Eritrea holding skins of night, void of stars, hued in pitch, were stark women, thus I cared little for her lies. I did not hold her words to ransom, for beauty melts falsehoods, weakens will for men. Her cut blood back held a road map of colored ink, pulsed by an artist's needle point I knew, because I knew of such travail, that the links of mail scrolled upon her skin was a voyager of life, life's tale.

Slavery, though prevalent, mostly lives alive within the center cut, Darfur, Djibouti and Addis Ababa. These are odd locals of lost worlds of Constantine The Great and Moloch Gods. Though savage of trade of flesh and bone can and is a most marvellous and tragic thing, mysteries left for further talks as cruelty of bondage is bestowed upon a man, as well as women. None of that held any semblance to what I had witnessed along the teeming slums of the Sudan.

Placing pipe to earth, intoxicated and stoned from the red root and the blood alcohol so consumed within the minarets of the Pyramids of Dahshur, Maori Tribesmen too, as by a faithless heathen such as I, I began to dream. Wondering what my dreams might mean, I glimpsed this skeletal creature tall so sinned thin of a maple skin and as mentioned before, an angular cinnamon stick that caravans of desert thieves had caged and bartered for once along the slat feluccas of the Blue Nile. It was a time no one quite remembered any longer, except a fool as me.  For I held curious of such lore, such oddities as the bizarre goddesses of mirth, murr and mandolins, a child of the earth, with pictures stencilled of needle point along back and arms once virgin of such art, as they were at birth.

Pin point after pin prick, I watched in awe, rampaging along her skin to red hue and other pigments too I might simply try to describe as blue, perhaps turquoise too. Then, I imagined the froth of the Mediterranean Sea, but after scrutiny, I believed only lapis, it gold veined and carved and gouged from Iranian stone, might describe best what I held to be, tattoos as stoic as Biblical time. Ignoring the pain and wan and time, she was breathless as teeth more white then soap stone and pearls, and then I knew no simple woman, no ordinary creature would allow the artist to slice and break and cut an image from his mind along the arms or back of her desires for all to see. I saw in awe as sunlight dazzled the gold bangles on her wrists, neck and arms, as tiny gold rings dangled from her ears and nose for all to see, for such memory moments are left best for feral women, from the coast of Somali Land, there along the Dead Sea.

Miracles and memories, Suez winds, what Phoenician wayfarers saw, deep where travellers sometimes die and in the tent, along the rainbow rugs of Bukhara, perhaps Arabian tales too, she sat along a bone carved stool, as a Berber artist brought her skin to life, mixed sweetly of blood tinctured of her veins. Hardly able to control myself, I could no longer watch, rose barefoot, walked from the wonder of the awe, back to freighter and the sea, where never looking back I drifted across the world to a home I never had or was ever known to me.

Turning south, the freighter ploughed and stoked across the sea. I imagined darkness is, what blackness was and then again who knows if such myths are true or more. I imagined perhaps the poetess of African lore, who whirling within a maze may or may not be, as from the canvass tents, an optic image glowed along the miracle of the camels humps, the one I moved within the clefts of desert life so many times than more. But it was there, though I seldom understand such things, an image of the African woman, color sliced and stitched by needle tine of who she was along the story along her shoulders, arms and mind. A sun fire message that perhaps she knew something that I did not.  Perhaps of secret nights and days of drink, a glass, or perhaps two or three or more, drowning, living and creating within the ardour of sweet and red hued wine she so adored.

I remember mahogany skin, black eyes, black hair and a white smile and I cannot but at the moment to ask, to seek what perhaps this warrior poetess might be all about? Might she be a mistress to a Nomad Lord or the sister of the Luna Queen in the desert night or in fact a concubine, shackled and chained to the master of the stars. Such puzzles, such a maze it was and knowing so little of such questions that break me and entice me and leave me confused, I relinquished my right to know this woman. She was an untethered heathen, this creature as sister to the panther she must roam and as for then and tomorrow I will simply call her by her secret unchosen, mysterious name, a woman, an omen of tattoos that chose to become an illusion, as The Illustrated Woman.