Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Obsidian Stele for Alioune Diop

                     Brother for you I have examined your bird aspects
African sand grouse to traverse intact the hottest sands of the desert
           African mousebird to foil the ruses of the bush and to confront the
laughter of the forest
           overleaper of ergs
           crest raised from sudden pride
           you knew how to fly high
                                   major migrant
you knew how to fly far
high above all
taking in with a single glimpse the most distant parcel of
the hereditary patrimony
inspector of lost inheritances
tester of fidelities
agreeing to daily commerce
only with unperceived hopes and vast memories
whose fervor nielloed in the hollow or gilded on the obverse
the legendary delicacy of your every gesture

obsidian of memory
man of the rescript
                     man of the recado

                                   the Message
through the dust of the confines
and the belly of the wave
you kept it always above your head
at arm’s length from mud
at heart’s length
                     from fear
faithful to the intimate order.

20 April 1983


Translation by A James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman

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