05 October 2012

Aracelis Girmay

[from Aracelis Girmay's Kingdom Animalia, BOA, 2011]

& When We Woke

It rained all night. It did not rain.
I strapped my life to a buoy — & sent it out.
& was hoping for a city whose citizens sing
from their windows or rooftops,
about the beauty of their children
& their children’s eyes, & the color of the fields
when it is dusk. & was hoping for a city
as free as the rain, whose people roam
wherever they want, free as any real, free thing is free.
Joyful. Green. & was hoping
for a city of 100 old women whose bones
are thick & big in their worker hands
beautiful as old doors. & when we woke,
dear reader, we’d landed in a city of 100 old women
telling their daughters things. & when we turned
to walk away, because we did not think we were citizens
of this strange & holy place, you & I, the hundred old
women said, No, No! You are one of us! We are your
mothers! You! You! Too! Come & listen to our secrets.
We are telling every person with a face!
& they stood us in a line facing the sea,
(because that is the direction we came from)
& behind us there was another line of women
& another, & we sang songs. & we filled the songs
with our mothers’ names. & we filled the songs
with trees for our mothers to stand under,
& good water for our mothers to drink. & we filled
the songs with beds for our mothers to lay down in
& rest. We filled the songs with rest. & good food
for our mothers to eat. We made them a place
in our singing, & we faced the sea.
We are still making them a place
in our singing. Do you understand?
We make them a place where they can walk freely,
untouched by knives or the police who patrol
the borders of countries like little & fake hatred-gods
who patrol the land though the land says, I go on
& on, so far, you lose your eye on me.
We make our mothers a place in our singing & our place
does not have a flag or, even, one language.
Do you understand? We sing like this for days
until our throats are torn with singing. Do you understand?
We must build houses for our mothers in our poems. I am not sure,
but think. This is my wisest song.

Aracelis Girmay


  1. wow..!! very nice!

  2. goosebumps over and over again!

  3. Anonymous22:26

    Wonderful visuals and a moving poem. thank you!

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