– Nikky Finney. Instruction, Final: To Brown Poets from Black Girl with Silver Leica
None of us has one definite home place.
We haunt the shadowy woods, bed down on riverbanks,
On meadowland in earshot of running streams.
– Virgil. excerpt from Aeneid VI
translated by Seamus Heaney
There was the sea, yes; blue held
between the island and its hem of coral.
I liked diving best, the warm, lemony
taste of seawater, the fizz of sand
like leaning my ear to the rim of a glass of Fanta.
Afterwards, salt crusted my eyelashes, cracked
my lips; I sat in the sun with my arms wrapped round
my legs, licked the fine, bitter dust on the insides
of wrists, elbows, the tops of knees.
Here it was sweet water, sweet stones;
the pebble-click language of lakes.
Always stepping in to be carried: to be
lifted, tilted and tear-dropped, set down
by swells on toe-tips. To be swayed. Whole afternoons
spent like this; at the end of the day I would lie in bed,
turbulent ghost moving through me, my body
not yet accustomed to the bed’s smooth,
– Soraya Peerbaye. Lagoons and lakes
Have you heard, stone wall?
Iron door, blind window,
My pillow, my bunk, my chain,
My hidden sad picture for which
I risk death again and again,
Have you heard?
My visitor brought green onions,
My cigarettes smell of cloves.
Spring has come to the mountains of my land.
– Ahmed Arif. Inside
translated by Murat-Nemet Nejat
– Edouard Glissant. excerpt from For Mycea
translated by Brent Hayes Edwards
The gaping mouths of a hundred crocodiles form netted traps in each wave
Consider the labour within the sea-change of a raindrop to a pearl
– Mirza Ghalib. dām-e har mauj meñ hai halqah-e sad kām-e nihang *
translated by Azra Raza and Sara Suleri Goodyear
In the net of every wave is a circle of a hundred crocodile mouths,
Let’s see what happens to the drop on the way to becoming a pearl.
translated by Frances W. Pritchett and Owen T.A. Cornwall
During the day I play at drowning
looking for the smoke
of eyelashes and faded hair
the lilac shadows of blood
and the ruins of coffee
but at night
I dream of the last syllable
in my mother’s heart
the last red word in her lungs.
– Frank Lima. Plena