Prayers for Exiled Poets

Were you to ask me where I’ve been…
I would have to tell how dirt mottles rocks.
How the river, running, runs out of itself.

Pablo Neruda, ‘There is No Forgetting (Sonata)’
Translated by Forrest Gander

Prayers no longer hold up these walls in my absence.
My own country rebukes me. I hold the world on my back.

Look for me in translation. In my own language you will go unanswered.
My Ugandan passports are a quiet place of ruin.

Where I come from, money is water slipping through their hands.
They eat what falls from trees and turns the flesh to gin.

I am of the same fruit and close to extinction.
My only root is my father’s name. Both of us removed from the soil.

In recent times, despite my deeds, you let me stay
no longer in bondage between earth and sky. No longer

do I hide in my own shadow. No longer waiting to stop waiting.
This rock becomes a sanctuary from which I can repair the ruins.

You have given me back my eyes.

From Kingdom of Gravity. Reproduced by kind permission of Peepal Tree Press

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