for Harry Mphanza
We have changed a great many of our colonial place names since independence, but we have kept the name of Livingstone out of a deep respect. —Siloka Mukuni, chief of the Leya People
At the onset of my ingenious plan, the sun barely shone
through the mist.
I struggled with a name to identify the rushes
of water pouring beside me.
Half of my tongue saying Mosi-oa-Tunya—
“the smoke that thunders.” The other saying Victoria Falls.
And here is my complex. To shred the palette
of English lodged on my tongue. Its sheer civility.
Restraining all languages,
I snuck past two olive-sheened
security guards sleeping underneath the shade
of banana leaves to find Livingstone’s bronze body,
to which I snickered: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”