Poetry at Sangam



EIGHT FACES by Abdourahman A. Waberi

(Translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson.)

inspired by black-and-white photographs

see how Africa smiles though devalued
degraded deprived
of all there was in her insides
all she had to nourish her children
dispersed from now on
to every shore of the vast world

tiny eyes that suddenly turn
the balance of the world
upside down in a blink
gaze not yet old enough to be snuffed

here is the rural migrant who seems
to have lost his brother
town’s nomad
criss-crossing districts

some are left sitting here to watch
time pass them by
others dust themselves off
get up and walk   erect   towards the west
course set for a mirage.

remain fearlessly in one’s own space
escape the greedy camera’s eye
watch the sky
the hourglass of time has sped up
the shipwreck of old age at hand

photograph someone’s core
with the weight of their smile
memory and history guessed at
flickering now
and again in eyes

face adorned with a thin smile
something to make your way through a crowd
sometimes hostile sometimes kind
a thin smile
a calmness hard-won
by countering blows from destiny’s cleated soles

he doesn’t appear to be lost in time
and persists in smiling at us
handsome and strong
black and young
with gusto he’ll feast
on the yam of life