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You Who Are On Your Way Over There

Alain Mabanckou

Translated from the French by John Keene

You who are on your way over there
Toward what was once an azure blue dream,
My sun the closest shadow
to another’s shadow,
My altar five stars
My reason for being
not being
no longer being,
You who are traveling to my nightly refuge
do tell the people over there
that over here, atop the world’s map, a troubadour steals
what remains of a country wounded by the daily rounds.

You who are on your way over there,
Toward the bed of my thoughts
My ivory tower
My elephantine cemetery
My river so tranquil in times gone by
You on your way toward this withdrawn sea,
Columbarium of legendary limestone reefs,
Blood-rich vessels of my Heart,
Roots of which I am the plant,
tell them, you must tell the people over there
that over here a troubadour is drawing in red ink
the geography of Space
a space cast open to the four winds…


About the author

Alain Mabanckou is the author of L’sure des lendemains (Editions Nouvelles du Sud), in which the poem in this issue originally appeared. He received the Prix Renaudot for his Memoires de porc-epic (Editions du Seuil) in 2006, and is professor of Francophone literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. ​

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