Leanne Ncube

Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: This evocative poem is from emerging writer, Leanne Ncube. I first heard this performed at an open-mic event and it blew me away. She drops us into a precarious journey and we rattle along with a car as it makes its way through a decaying city. It’s a powerful comment on postcolonialism, as the writer told me herself, it’s about “the appearance of freedom from colonial power yet the scars that are beneath.”

The car rattles as it hurtles along the pot hole riddled road
The brown earth has eaten through the black tar
Almost like it refuses to be usurped

Against the black and grey surface it looks like scars 

I swerve through the decaying city
Its buildings stand as a reminder of its prosperous past
Now all that progress is falling away

Coming here is like going back in time

The architecture is frozen in some colonial dream

Or perhaps this slow crumbling

Is the progress?

It was never their own
It was born of the barrel of the conqueror’s gun
Perhaps the city must go back to beginning to start again

As I emerge from its heart
The remnants of light fall away
Flanking the scarred road are streetlights which no longer work

Darkness stretches out around me

The only light, the full beam of my headlights

Far beyond the darkness
I think I can hear a faint drumbeat echoing in the night
I imagine it is the call of some forgotten ancestor
Beckoning the city home

Leanne Ncube is a writer based in Manchester. She is originally Zimbabwean, which informs some of her writing. She writes short stories and poetry and is currently writing her first play. Find her on Instagram @totallyleanne1992.