Modern Sudanese Poetry

Safia Elhillo

My husband works his fingers
into the knot muscled against my spine & my dead
stay dead my hair a knotted cursive language
my ligature my grief barely literate my amulets
knotted around my neck & wrists my language
my language cursive & silent glottal & knotted &
scarring the cheeks of my dead adorning the hair
of my dead tallow in their braided hair
i read the books in translation where is the poem &
circle every word i know acacia lupin
sandalwood & ash they ululate my dead
they squat like brides over clay pots of smoke
a yolk suspended in each open eye & some
in truth are not dead my dead & i am who
is lost who is not counted among the living
the poem is not owed me i was wed in all the colors
of my dead the reddening the borrowed gold
i wrote the poem in translation i wrote the poem
in the loophole i wrote the poem in cursive
i snarled it i picked apart the threads & wove a shroud
i was wed in it i unfastened i broke my fast with apricots
furred like the ears of my dead i looked laterally
for ancestors i descended left & right i read the book
in arabic knew each letter & its sound & did not
recognize the words for tallow for ululate my dead
my languages my ligatures smoke in my loosened hair

Last updated September 27, 2022