It’s about a girl called ‘Suzanne with an “e”.’
Suzanne didn’t come to East Africa on safari,
She was an Oxford student majoring in History
And wanted to see the sites involved in slavery
And the relics of the Arab-Portuguese rivalry.
I first spied her walking alone by the swaying sea
And something about her just jumped up and bit me.
I asked her her name and she said, ‘Suzanne…with an “e”.’
Suzanne had golden hair which she kept tacking behind her ear
And an accent that made some words difficult to hear.
Her eyes were as blue as the cloud-starved African sky
That arched above us like the Cistern painting by Michelangelo.
Her skin was remarkably white and had some freckles
That resembled debris lying on a field of snow.
Her smile went on forever and she laughed with glee –
She laughed so loudly I could hear some echoes.
Cupid launched a missile, he didn’t fire an arrow,
And it went straight through me and ‘Suzanne with an “e”.’
From thence, there was no distance between us;
I took her to see the Gedi Ruins and Fort Jesus
And at night we marveled at a sky as brilliant as a mirror
And cheered the fire-eaters and limbo dancers
With ebony skins that glistened like in the moonlight like razors.
Suzanne changed into tropical gear and I braided her hair
And then we danced to Bob Marley and The Wailers.
Wherever he was, Cupid must have been very happy –
I danced all night with Miss ‘Suzanne with an “e”.’
A massive orange sun leaped over the horizon like a tiger.
Suzanne said she wasn’t tired and I said, ‘Me neither.’
We made for the beach where there was plenty of company
And palm fronds swaying in a wind-conducted symphony.
We walked hand in hand and sipped coconut water
And took the sea when the weather got hotter.
Suzanne swam like a mermaid, or perhaps an octopus.
We tried to kiss underwater but ended up engulfed in laughter
When a jealous wave beached us like shipwreck survivors.
You should have seen the grin on my ‘Suzanne with an “e”!’
Suzanne lay on the beach for hours and got a suntan,
I taught her Swahili, she taught me cockney slang,
I made fun of her accent and she hit my arm.
Wise men say that time and tide wait for no man
And all too soon it was time for Suzanne to return.
I never went to the airport – I couldn’t bear too see her part.
She traveled light – she’d incur no extra levy –
All she took were her pictures, some souvenirs and my heart
And that was the last time I saw ‘Suzanne with an “e”.’
Without Suzanne, life in the tropics just isn’t the same,
I’m so lonely and moody, my friends say I’m going insane –
I walk around the shore brooding like a manic-depressive.
Picturesque tiger dawns are no longer impressive,
The world-famous Kenyan coastline isn’t that sunny,
Damon Wayans and Jim Carrey aren’t that funny,
And the fire-eating and limbo dancing isn’t all that uncanny.
I sent Suzanne an e-mail saying, ‘Someone in Africa loves you.’
And she replied saying, ‘I miss Africa and I miss you.’
It was signed: ‘Suzanne with an “e”.’