On finding a man again in Kenya by Fredessa Hamilton

We still suffer, the downtrodden, in dust
Scraped away and analyzed in layers
People who, being first, gain nothing,
Until they find man in Kenya again.
Some homo sapiens still won’t admit
That they found man in Kenya again.

African, first-man, chained and beaten and bitten
By snakes and dogs in ships and cells,
Still in cells, children of men found in Kenya,
Man who made tools became tools to
Ease the fright of those who found man
in Kenya.
And they found men in Kenya, not slaves for America.

Argon-40/Argon-39, carbon dating, star gazing,
Finding every reason to know where man became – –
Does it win respect, a place on a throne?
Do we give it museum status, like the Hope Diamond,
Or the first telephone, or Wilbur and Orville’s plane?
No, we just accept it like another flight, and
Let it fade away like Pan Am,
The first bone from the first man found in
Kenya again, in the dust.

Mud reveals the story, clay holds the jawbones
Of Adam and the rib of Eve, even while
The babies of Eve wander, bleeding and crying
Out of the 2.4 millions of layers of mud.
Africa, the home of us all? Are Lucy’s children,
Hundreds of millions of years,
And shades removed, ashamed of their fathers,
The men found in Kenya again and again?

Maybe now that the Kenya man has become
So many men and women, we are not all
Due the regal status of the first bone found.
But if Kenya’s first man and his tools
Rate a special place at the Smithsonian, then surely
The children of the man found again in Kenya
Are due a roof and a plate and a chance
To be found again in all their splendor and fanfare.
Keep looking and you will again find man in Kenya!

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