Skip to content
Words Without Borders “stands as a monument to international collaboration and a shared belief in artistic possibility.” 
— 2018 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize Citation
from the March 2019 issue

The Prayer of the Flame that Sparked the Forest Fire

The poet reflects on death and rebirth. 
 

Make me more simple. Extinguish

the greater part of my life.

 

If to burn is my destiny, permit me

to turn to ash the dry leaves at the feet 

of trees so that they might one day

become a greater forest.

 

Tell the sad stories to the sky:

the orchid dying before it blooms; the fruit dropping

before bearing seeds; the bird who, lost in smoke,

lost its nest as well—so as to make her cry,

for her to shed tears. For seedlings to sprout,

to leaf, and for the forest to be green again.

 

Return me to the garbage heap in the city,

to the hearths of those who hunger,

to the blood of those who shiver in loneliness,

to the husband and wife who sleep

with their backs to each other.

 

Make me free from pride.

 

© M. Aan Mansyur. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by John McGlynn. All rights reserved.

Read more from the March 2019 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.