Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 3, September 2010

Mark Ritchie
Hollingbourne, Kent, United Kingdom


Somali Embarkation

Boarding at Hargeisa, there is no airline safety card, no air hostess, no allocated seat number.  Just find one that’s not too dirty—preferably one with a back that stays upright, or in any other fixed position, instead of depositing you in the lap of the veiled lady in the row behind. 

No oxygen mask will ever dangle above your head and don’t worry about looking for a life jacket.  No one points out the emergency exits; it would be a long jump anyway, since only the Russian crew have a battered ladder, which they have just stowed before retreating to the cockpit, safe behind a grubby curtain.    

With the doors closed it begins to get hot, but the air jets have long since broken, so wait until we climb into the high cold air.  One by one the four turbo props start to turn and the antique Ilyushin lumbers off the gravel pen and onto the airstrip.  Its bald tyres register every joint between the concrete blocks, bump, bump, Bump, BUMP, until, suddenly, we are airborne. 

The view from the small window is obscured by crazed perspex.  Forty-five minutes to Djibouti.

his brow filmed with sweat
my neighbour’s busy fingers
nip off
qat leaves*


* Leaves of Cathar edulis, a narcotic shrub chewed by Somalis.

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