Ancient tree, The Citadel, Amman, Jordan.
Kofi Awoonor, professor, poet, author and diplomat was killed Saturday in a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya. This is an excerpt of his powerful poem "This Earth, My Brother:"
"The dawn crack of sounds known
rending our air
shattering our temples, toppling
raising earthwards our cathedrals of hope,
in demand of lives offered on those altars
for the cleansing that was done long ago.
Within the airwaves we carry
our hutted entrails and we pray;
shrieks abandoned by lonely roadsides
as the gunmen’s boots tramp.
I lift up the chalice of hyssop and tears
to touch the lips of the thirsty
sky-wailing in a million spires
of hate and death; we pray
bearing the single hope to shine
burnishing in the destiny of my race
that glinting sword of salvation.
"In time my orchestra plays my music
from potted herbs of anemone and nim
pour upon the festering wounds of my race,
to wash forever my absorbent radiance
as we search our granary for new corn.
There was that miracle we hoped for
that salvation we longed for
for which we said many prayers
offered many offerings.
"In the seasons of burning feet
of bad harvest and disastrous marriages
there burns upon the glint edge of that sword
the replica of the paschal knife.
The sounds rounded our lonely skies
among the nims the dancers gather their cloths,
stretching their new-shorn hides off offered cows
to build themselves new drums.
Sky-wailing from afar, the distant tramp
of those feet in rhythm
miming underneath them violence..."
"...stretching their hands to the crowd
in wasteful gestures of identity
Boos and shrieks greeted them
as they smiled and waved
as those on a big boat journey.
A sudden silence fell
as the crowd pushed and yelled
into the bright sharp morning of a shooting.
"...and my mountains reel and roll
to the world’s end."
*This post's title is a reference to Kofi Awoonor's poem Song of Sorrow.