Immigrant

We present this work in honor of the South African holiday, Heritage Day.

Elisabeth Eybers
South African
1915 – 2007

 

I’ve nothing for hands and feet here,
the rest was lost in transit:
the dazed heart, the nervous tension –
then again, what would be made of them?

To compare what’s been lost
to what’s around, to grasp at light and sound
though I don’t look or listen,
I still have the senses on my face.

And in my breast and belly space
I apprehend something else was in that place.
Who’d have known that emptiness would be
so heavy, that being unimpeded would result in such a bind?

Translation by Jacquelyn Pope

Diviner’s Hand

05-31 Shoneyin
Lola Shoneyin
Nigerian
b. 1974

Sometimes I wonder
how much longer I shall be here
to bite your hair
with my wooden toothcomb.

I am not afraid
of the freeze of frail fingers;
there is something
romantic about loss.

But I worry about the uneven rhythm
of the diviner’s hand,
the widening waist
that filters sand.

I worry that time
rests its hand on doorknob
and taps the floor
with its iron toe tip.

Somehow,
I must show you
the tricks my mother didn’t teach me;
tell you the tales that never reached me.

But if time will spurn
a mother’s wish
or turn its face away
from a daughter’s need,

remember this, little one:
a life lived well is a wave in flight;
discarded dreams
draw out painful night.