In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Callaloo 30.2 (2007) 606-607

Spread and Illuminated

Spread and illuminated
under my desk lamp
pages of old and new
letters, blue longhand
staring fiercely at me
where I sit in my gray
swing able chair into late
night hours. —How long
has it been since
you've been back home
The hands who wrote
these lines are my mother's
and father's. These words
should speak to me,
but there is only silence
here. I never learned
my native alphabet.
These Amharic letters
may as well be blots
of ink to me,
and suddenly
a forceful fluid form
rush, like magma,
to battle those solid
words. —All my life
I haven't been back.

As if someone poured
coffee over them they are
loose now in shape,
dissolving into oceanic ink
pooling on my floor.
Up from there the words rise
in petite tin forms, smiling
and pointing at me.
That's a long time. [End Page 606]
With my mouth first I fall
gently towards a dark surface,
tasting warm fluids.
The rest of me rushing
into a fluid form
out of which I step out clean
as from a shower
for the first time as an Ethiopian,
Too long
playing marbles in alleys
of city streets
in Addis Ababa,
running with my siblings
in between metal shacks
and big hotels.
Chasing cool shadow
sand clouds rise
in between and after us.
I stop to see dust
falling down like a curtain,
catching breath
and perceiving among people
a mother and a father
walking closer.

Lena Bezawork Grönlund is a writer, translator, and teacher. She lives in Sweden.



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