by Samuel I. Jones
Kiletu Mbemba crouched on the edge of a rocky bluff. Like the gnarled acacias his black frame marked the flaxen grasslands, punctuated by huge grey rocks poking out like bones.
He stared awestruck into a large nest, at stones which threw color and light. Stones with clean, geometric shapes. Stones of incomprehensible worth.
His mind departed across alien possibilities. He could finally afford the dowry to marry Thilela. His family could buy enough food to grow fat even through the dry season; perhaps an automobile.
His heart was slow and careful as he considered, and was swiftly overwhelmed by hurdles. If he made it to the city, could he get a fair price? Would they believe a poor black villager found them in a raven’s nest? Would he be beaten or killed as a thief? They would tell him they are only glass, and then follow and murder him. Perhaps they would believe, then a company of men would come to his village, raping the women and land in search of more.
It seemed impossible this concentration of wealth could bring more joy than suffering. “Such as these,” he concluded, “would bring trouble on the head of even a white man.”
As his figure faded towards the village, goats ambling behind to his whistled tune, a large rough-plumed raven landed on the edge of the nest. Like a priest with its white-collar it laid to rest on the gemstones a white man’s identity: a passport sullied with blood.
(Samuel is an artist, programmer, and daydreamer in Tidewater Virginia.)