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Fiction by Norwegian Women

Friday, August 29, 2014

Preparations for the Voyage to Lampedusa by Octavia McBride-Ahebee

Photograph by Victor Englebert
I tagged him
like a suitcase
in our wedding henna
and the indigo of our gods
so sand and salt water could not erase                     him
using a hand-rolled cone
of discarded plastic
I labeled him in Arabic on his forehead
with the translated love poems of Rumi
riding across the arch of each eyebrow
I braided his eyelashes into a wind rose
to inform a faltering will 
where grace blew the hardest
I pierced his ears with Voltaire’s call 
to give ourselves the gift
             of living well
on the palms of his hands, I rendered
in sloppy English,
the poetry of lorde and knight

between the nervous Dogon masks that dressed his breasts
and the hairy lotus flowers that framed a navel I loved to get lost in

I sung in the double swirl of earth’s only colors
a plea in Italian to be kind

A boat carrying migrants headed to Italy/Photograph by Massimo Sestini


amid the spiraling canals of Sundiata’s praise song
that ran up and down his legs, front and back
I marked the empty spaces with the tattooed kisses
Of his children and a p.o. box leading back to Kolokani
on his stained fingernails I wrote our love dreams
-you know –a quartered-filled belly of lamb and hibiscus,
a muted chest,
feces that is thick and whole and free of the world’s disdain,
a means of stretching our children with ideas -
I wrote this in Bambara because it glows in the dark
because it can lift a diminishing resolve from the clutches
of a cold night desert
and even dance on death’s imminent arrival

in the middle of a beautiful sea that will reject him

This man was travelling on a boat that sank off the
coast of Libya headed for Italy . AFP/Getty Images

disguised as a lullaby
to remind him 
at the moment he is embraced
in a wet, frothy death hug
that this failure is not his
it is not his
it belongs to those who will rescue his body

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