The Dotted Line

The Dotted Line

The very concepts of homogeneous national cultures, the consensual or contiguous transmission of historical traditions or ‘organic’ ethnic communities…are in a profound process of redefinition – Homi Bhabha

If cut, a chef will wear a bright blue plaster

for in nature there is no blue food,

so if the plaster falls down in the stewpot

it is easily retrieved.


There’s nothing natural to some in this,

this kiosk’s glossy, gaudy Royal Blue.

It is, some say, a sort of

cancer in this scene, upon the eye;

like God’s or Angels’ foreign whiteness,

it’s exaggerated.

Oddly, it’s the selfsame folk

who won’t concede the jetblack on our flag is

too, exaggerated, flapping its unwelcoming hyperbole

from flagpole after flagpole.

They prefer the right, such people,

where the earth-tones of a rural world

seem gentler on the eye,

where local poles that form this market stall

are tightly lashed with sisal

not machine-hewn planks, steel nails,

that gaudy paint.

These types would cut along the dotted line,


what the left might offer.


Imagine if, instead, we made

a fold along that dotted line

so both sides of this picture touched,

two palms inside a handshake

or two mouths from Lake-and-Mountain,

kissing, gloss-and-matt,

or North-and-South

or any other shocking This-and-That.

©Stephen Derwent Partington

Photography: Wambui Mwangi