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Photograph of Earth from Space
by
Pamela Porter


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On the outskirts of Luanda, Angola,
Gerald Nduma has walked an hour to school
carrying his chair, which is really
an empty coffee can. Nine years old,
he holds in his other hand a mango
which will be his lunch. At school,
which is really a tree, Gerald
places his lunch beneath his chair.
This day, a missionary has come
with magazines. Gerald takes what
is given him. Soon he does not hear
the teacher’s instructions. He does not hear
the students’ chatter. He is looking
at the photograph of Earth
floating in a dark sea
which Gerald imagines
is plenteous with fish.

From Cathedral (Ronsdale Press, 2006)
Used with the author's permission.

Purchase a framed print of this poem.

For twenty years, the Osu Children’s Library Fund has worked to introduce African children to the world of books and open doors to a brighter future. The Fund also provides opportunities for non-literate adults to gain basic literacy skills, therefore improving their job prospects and opportunities. OCLF is a registered non-profit Canadian organization and Osu Library Fund, its sister non-profit organization in Ghana, shares the same mission statement. OCLF is launching a campaign to raise funds for chairs for the new Madina Community Library, near Accra, Ghana.  Edward Kwame (pictured below) is making the chairs at his carpenter's workshop in Accra.  Each chair costs $50.00, and OCLF will issue a tax receipt for this amount.  A brass nameplate will be placed on the back of each chair to acknowledge the donor's chosen honouree. If you would like to help this cause, send donations to: Osu Children's Library Fund, 188 Montrose St., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M 3M7.
 
 

 

 

Pamela Porter lives on Vancouver Island with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of rescued horses, dogs, and cats, including a formerly wild mustang. The author of three poetry collections, Pamela won the 2005 Canadian Governor General’s Award for her novel, The Crazy Man.  In addition to teaching at colleges and universities in both the U.S. and Canada, Pamela has traveled extensively in Africa and South America to assist children in need through both her words and actions.

 

 

 


Post New Comment:
Paloma_Bergdorf:
Beautiful!!
Posted 10/17/2010 04:53 PM
Paloma_Bergdorf:

Posted 10/17/2010 04:53 PM
Reganz:
I see two worlds, both part of the one larger world floating in a dark sea. Gerald with his two names: the first, a "Christian" name we all recognize and can pronounce; the second, Nduma, African and exotic. The missionaries bring pictures of the world beyond the tree. Gerald Nduma fills the dark space with fish. This poem brings these two worlds together in a beautiful, gentle collision.
Posted 10/17/2010 11:43 AM
sbraley:
What a stunning poem -- a vivid parable about plenty and lack.
Posted 10/16/2010 05:18 PM
Virginia taliaferro:
Lovely, lovely bit of poetry -- so evocative of age, time and place - let's hope we'll see more like this!
Posted 10/15/2010 11:07 AM
Virginia taliaferro:
Can't you just feel the dust, the heat, the cool under the tree-school, that mango to eat waiting beneath his classroom stool, blue earth turning.. turning..
Posted 10/15/2010 10:53 AM
Virginia taliaferro:
An intense, detailed image rendered in so few strokes; a world made temporarily real, a story nearly told --haiku-like & strikingly authentic. Beautiful.
Posted 10/15/2010 10:45 AM
Ronsdale:
Thanks for posting this moving poem. A correction: "Cathedral" was actually published last month (Sept 2010), not in 2006. "Cathedral" will be launched in Victoria, BC, on October 22, 2010, alongside Patrick Lane's new book, "Witness." Pamela Porter will donate $5 from every copy of "Cathedral" sold at the launch to Osu Children's Library Fund "Chairs for Children" Campaign.
Posted 10/12/2010 12:30 PM
wendy morton:
this beautiful poem, and the whole world it creates does exactly what a poem should do, which is to transport us, move us. wendy morton
Posted 10/09/2010 01:18 AM


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