by William Furley

They called their fifth son Jermini
and hung a sparkplug round his neck
-- an old Mercedes sparkplug as a charm
against snake-bite, Aids and cholera.

For they knew that Germany was a country
where everybody had Mercedes, big white
Mercedes, like the headman of their country,
houses with more rooms than people

and rainfall when you wanted, all year.
As a baby Jermini sucked his sparkplug
and his mother dangled it to make him sleep.
It came from the wreck of a safari jeep

abandoned in a gully near their village
and discovered like a bolt from heaven.
All the villagers had taken pieces:
the chief had got the star, of course,

and made them dance round it on holidays.
Jermini's father had received a hubcap
-- which they ate from -- a piece of the exhaust
which made a noise when blown like buffalo

and the sparkplug with its smell of fire.
Then when the car was stripped to barebones
a big rain had come and filled the gully
and next day the car had gone completely

-- which proved their point. When Jermini
grew up and went to school he studied
a map of the world with Africa in brown
just like it was, and Germany in green.

He conceived a plan of how he'd walk
from here to Germany -- it would take
five hundred days not counting the water
-- he had worked it out -- and return

in a white Mercedes, sounding the horn
and waving from the open roof rolled down:
they'd undoubtedly give him one in Germany
when they heard where he came from, and how.

©William Furley