A Shooting Script 1987

by Inua Ellams

#After Seamus Heaney

They are riding from what might have been
towards what will come to be, in a locked shot:
Missionaries on bicycles greeting Muslim boys,
priming the eighties for the troubled future,
still pedalling out at the end of the lens,
circling the teens like ambushed prey.
Mix to desert dust floating in hot breeze.
An ominous long sequence. Pan and fade.
Then voices over, of different tribal dogma,
discussing politics, failed civilian rule, the pull
of Christian capital, dwindling grazing land,
occurrence of names like Matthew and Paul.
A close-up on the cat’s eye of a white button
pulling back wide to a kaftan, black turban,
rifle, parched fields, herd of starving cattle.
Freeze his livid face. Let the credits run.
And just when it looks as if it is all over –
tracking shots of a mosque, the muezzin stands
for the call to prayer, sings over the young
interfaith couple washing off their hands.