Amina Said

uncertain land petrified mourning

fire iron blood barbed wire
Djibouti meditates on Red Sea shore
dhows rot in the cove of the port
Rimbaud seated pensive at a school desk
has no more ink for his pen
no paper for a poem
kilomètre 12 sheet metal refugee village
big water containers rusting alongside the path
the volcanoes’ twin cones burst from the blood of the sea
like a woman’s breasts pointing toward the sun
triangular bushes holding up the stretch of sky
nomad pastor standing on a rock scanning infinity
a holy man’s tomb is marked with a green cloth
tied to a pole thrust in a pile of rocks
a brown rock circle marks out a mosque
fields of black lava swarming with snakes
toothless smile of the rift across the trail
Lake Assal eye of salt open wide on another sky
blue mauve purple mountains of the Ethiopian dream
passage of caravans loaded with sweat and salt

Maskali dream of an island of birds of coral of white sands
port of call and refuge of Henri de Monfreid
language of landscapes and men
written in ephemeral signs
each earth is our earth and another earth
wearing leather sandals the last adventurer
hesitates at the market stall between a shark’s jaw
bracelets that crossed the Indian ocean
and a nomad’s Bible in Amharic

— translated by Marilyn Hacker