Easter Sunday, Rajab in Mid-Moon

Khaled Mattawa

Find the poet by the Channel of Mozambique
flown South to taste the air of the first migrants
Khidr’s progeny canoeing from the other side of earth.

He’s come to submit to heaven’s teachings to study
the clouds’ wide belief the rains’ narrow thoughts
to mirror his talismans on Isalo’s lagoons. Find the poet

in a steely howdah all-drive wheels. The stars’
algorithms spin his many destinies same looms
that map land and sea gouge the hills out of cobalt

where the crust softens to a sponge of undrinkable brine.
Shacks of galvanise encircle him taut-limbed women
buckets on their heads babies wrapped to their ribs

bare feet that walk carless roads. Scenery as if taken
from ancient footage. Our onlooker rides an engine
that could suffice a village’s need for light spends enough

to build a school. Why is he here? The zebu he’s eaten
could be the last of the herd. What is he but a sign
unattainable his living other than a gloomy striving?

Remnants of scorched dirt fields of ‘harvested’ woods
leave him like a sperm around a crowd of his own ravenous
with nothing to attach himself to. What does love mean

in a time of love unspirited? he asks, the body a rope
of flesh and words pulse of the sun’s touch – how vision
was merely skin once he recalls how once upon a time

we caught the scent of poppies with our hands. How can he
sing his gratitude? What origins to seek now? Must he
still praise the living who long for death in flame?

About This Poet:

Khaled Mattawa

Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, in 1964 and emigrated to the US in 1979, where he studied at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, taking a Masters in English and an MFA in creative writing at Indiana University. He received a PhD from Duke University and currently teaches… Read More