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Two Poems

By Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Translated By J. Bret Maney

The River in the Bellythe second collection by award-winning poet Fiston Mwanza Mujila to appear in English, will be published by Deep Vellum next week in J. Bret Maney's translation. In short "solitudes," including the two that appear below, Mujila meditates on the Congo River, exile, and memory.
 
 
Solitude 12
 
I don’t live in exile
exile lives in me
I sling the world
over my shoulder
my left hand
reaches Malaysia
and my side
brushes Belarus
ravenous bulk-body
deprived of the good Lord and birdsong
I am myself exile
myself nausea
myself anxiety
myself askew . . .
 
 
Solitude 55
 
I see your sparkling eyes again
like the dying flames
of a fire
I try to speak to you about the Congo River . . .
at its mouth in Moanda . . .
I try to sketch the Missouri for you
pitching itself into the Mississippi . . .
I try to revive for you
the concerto-cries of these migrating birds
as they swoop through depths of sky . . .
I try to tell you the Sahel’s true name
I try to trace your unspoiled face with my fingers
I try, I try, I try . . .
but you are not here . . .

 

From The River in the Belly, copyright 2021 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila. Translation © 2021 by J. Bret Maney. Reprinted by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

 

Related Reading:

2016 International Man Booker Q&A: Fiston Mwanza Mujila

Book Review: Fiston Mwanza Mujila's Tram 83

The Memory of Our Land: Writing in and from Exile


Published Aug 23, 2021   Copyright 2021 Fiston Mwanza Mujila

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