Three Poems from Sudan
Ninety thousand men, women and children
dragged their dust to rivers,
dams were never built for.
Under six cataracts
lie the bones of my ancestors.
Under my bed is the cane
they mapped the miles with,
slaves because the sun charred their skin
and made raisins of their hearts.
Together we part the waters,
Weep with mermaids
who playback voices
of those we left behind.
I allude to birthmarks and scars
when you ask where I’m from
because talking about it
makes life now sound make-believe.
You go back to yours, nap after lunch.
I do laundry and listen to Om Kalsoum
over and over again to that verse
about smoldering wine from her lover’s hand,
and dream about a clean slate.
You pass by my apartment
and laugh about the incense and smoke.
We wander the city like pigeons
pass by new places but end up
stopping where we see the same people
grateful to hear our names
being remembered somewhere.
Distance yourself from evil and sing to it. – Arabic proverb
The problem with language begins with love
we bury in children forever.
First I put a compass
between your lips and my footsteps,
so everyone you lied to,
could see which one of us got lost.
All the gardens I remember
exist now in worn-out stories
so rooted is their sadness
I dent sofas when I recall
how hard I threw your envy into the ocean.
How long I waited for the waves that stopped
how far my heart floated pale and dizzy
carried away by birds.
that broken plate I keep
to remember how to sing.