Poetry at Sangam



ROSARY FOR TIMBUKTU by Abdourahman A. Waberi

(Translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson.)

a small amphora full of water
for ritual ablutions
in hollows of arid valleys
in delight when a day begins
in the rustling and budding of time
I have nothing that’s mine—except the fear of God
God is the one who provides for the life
He gave me
until the ultimate hour
when night shall cease to be

like a butterfly in the night
who jumps
with joy
into fire
where stars shine
opposite us

two open syllables
repeated over and over again
a name
usher of lives
to get your head out of sleep is a chore
if the soul isn’t seeking light
and waging wars inside your own self

the one who knows
grandeur his cloak
his thirst without bounds
a mustard seed
his pride

from Cheikna
the lesson is drawn
he said
humble yourself and you shall appear
like the full moon
whose image is only seen
reflected in water
don’t be
boastful like smoke
which ascends to the sky
while only a product
of earth

the dog of my deepest self
is there
curled on the ground
in front of the kennel of life
like a newborn
waiting for us to attend to his needs