I left my head in Africa

Nicola POWYS
2 min readJan 7, 2022

an autobiographical poem

Stone Head. Photo by the author

I left my head in Africa fifty years ago, now…

I left it on top of an anthill — hidden behind the scrub bush that I had tamed with daily sweeping and decorated with found gems:

A dried snakeskin.

Beetles’ wings.

A wire bicycle.

I think of my head often, bleached bone by now — like the elephant skulls that I sat on once in the Game Park.

Still a child, I left my white head in Africa — ever the thoughtless Colonialist — and put a black head on to face the UK. No one noticed — maybe because I hid it with a cunning mask?

Someone had given me “Alice in Wonderland” to read on the flight back so, before landing, I took it into the toilets; ripped, folded and taped its astonishing pages into a passable likeness of my ten-year-old self — and put it on, securing it around the neck.

I still wear it. It has served me well — although now, older, the paper is crinkling of course and there are brown spots around the edges.

Sometimes, The Queen hurls an insult out of my surprised mouth and recently, I have been seduced more often than not by the “Drink Me” label tattooed on my forehead.

So many years on, I dare not reveal my beautiful black soul underneath.

No one would understand — some would be understandably insulted…

I left my head in Africa, a weighty, white offering to atone for something that I didn’t understand, but felt, instinctively, wasn’t right.

I hope the ants used it well.



Nicola POWYS

Artist, activist and writer using words and paint existentially. Find my artwork here: htpps//www.instagram.com/playspowys