5 poems by Reesom Haile
translated by Reesom Haile and Charles Cantalupo


Daughter sister
Your own sweet daughter
Your mother's
Her sister's and brother's
Your father's daughter
His brother's and sister's
Your brother's and sister's
Your older brother's
Your older sister's
Whoever that may be

Daughter of this town
Daughter of your neighbor
Daughter and sister
Of our nation
Your sister
Your daughter
Your grandmother and mother
Your fiancee and your wife
Every daughter
Part of you
Your own sweet daughter
Sister to sister to sister

Respect their rights



First the earth, then the plow:
So knowledge comes out of knowledge.
We know, we don't know.
We don't know we know.
We know we don't know.
We think
This looks like that --
This lemon, that orange --
Until we taste the bitter.



"I dance better,"
Said the tail to its dog,
"Let's Fight!"
Too tired, the dog
Bit it off,
Spit it in the dust
And left,
Growling, "Behave."



Well traveled and knowing many languages,
The next generation arrives.
Let's rise to the occasion.
"Welcome, Vielkomen, Bien Venue, Ben Venuto!
Let's bathe your tired feet with hot water
And serve the best injera, vegetables, meat and drink.
Take this warm, white gabi to wrap yourself in.
Let's walk the mountains and valleys.
Given to us, we give them to you --
History and culture to read,
A legacy to satisfy your needs
And to share, even with strangers --
On one condition:
Don't give it all away.

(injera: traditional bread
gabi: traditional blanket-cloak)



Desta, Daughter born in exile,
Come home the first time.
Meet your grandmother
Her family, her neighbors --
Your family, your neighbors,
Your country, our home.
Please eat
These vegetables and meat
And a special treat of wild roots.
Or have I spoiled you?

No, Daddy, I love this.
But we need windows.


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Copyright © 1999 by Reesom Haile and Charles Cantalupo.

Light and Dust Mobile Anthology of Poetry.