I am startled from my reading by the persistent scratch, scratch, scratch of the reed brush along the concrete. My neighbor is bent over, her toddler at her heels, brushing the walkway in front of our houses. The morning light drifts through the trees to make dappled patterns on her blue print skirt; beads of sweat gather on her neck from the effort.
The ground is littered with goat droppings and food remnants. It is coated by a fine, pale blanket of dirt, ever the red dirt. The red dirt that finds its way into the uppermost shelves in my closet, that clings to the walls of every building, that burrows deep into my flesh. I smell like Africa. I am the red dirt.
And still she sweeps, as though the walkway must be cleared to begin her day. The scratch, scratch, scratch continues.
When I return home from work this evening, my red dirt shoes will cover her hard work. My red dirt clothes will shake as I walk, and my red dirt hand will open the door. The scratch, scratch, scratch will start again tomorrow, but the red dirt can never leave. The red dirt is home.