Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Alternate Take

Academic journal article Transnational Literature

Alternate Take

Article excerpt

When they laid our father out, mwaice wandi,

I want to say, I'm meant to say, soft light

played the skin of his spent face and the sobs

were, of course, a jangling kind of song.

If I could take you where the sandy earth

meets his final stone, tiled and off-white,

we might have learned to worship better gods.

He was known, in the shebeens, as long John.

At the wake relatives tried variations

on the words of the day: I am sorry

for your grieving/your trouble/your loss.

I've been weighing these apologies for years

that pass and retreat like disused stations.

I think of his walk becoming your quarry,

his knack for beguiling women, your cross.

It's enough to bring me here, past tears

to where his face simplifies to a picture:

the shrine in Nagoya, him stood, Sequoia

among lesser trees, looking good in denim;

every inch the charismatic spectre. …

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