Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 24 October 2014

A New Life


Melilla, Morocco. African migrants sit atop a border fence as Spanish civil guard officers in riot gear try to turn them back during an attempt to cross into Spanish territories
: photo by Jesus Blasco de Avellaneda/Reuters via the Guardian, 22 October 2014

Hassan, of noble blood and proud demeanour

the most respected man of the village
came back to Berkane from the factory job
in Belgium
bruised and bloodied, after going through the little house
of customs at Melilla.
The Africa of now --
La Vita Nuova
neither farther nor closer
than one long jump
over the fence
into the cemetery.
The Africa of fifty years ago --
autostop and go. The getting there had
more of water in it
than rock, then more of wood
and sand and mud
than stone: whiteness,

the jawbone of a goat
lying in the dust along the side
of the road; more track than road,
corkscrewing through the mountains the long way
southward, over the trade route,
across and along the river of rivers
from the old Maghrib town
whose fallen chieftain said, departing,
The mountains are my bones,
Oum Rabia is my limit --
Oum Er-Rbia, the mother of spring --
And the plain my prey.
The women and girls went down
to the river, to wash their clothes
on the rocks. The clothes
bright yellow
and red, the river so
swiftly flowing.
Inside the hostel
the Arab girls
showed their faces
drank Coca Cola
and asked
Aimez-vous les Rolling Stones?

Migrants try to scale the border fences at Melilla unsuccessfully, with 150 getting stuck on one of the three fences or in the gaps between on 18 June: photo by Sergi Camara via The Guardian, 19 June 2014

Spanish Guardia Civil surround the migrants: photo by Sergi Camara via The Guardian, 19 June 2014

The triple-fenced border line separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of the city of Melilla: photo by Sergi Camara via The Guardian, 19 June 2014