The African Mother

O! Child whose provisions lowered
By the descending rope of
                                The African Mother

Did you get used to this tiny hut
By the scantness of food and water of
                                The African Mother

Never succumbed to the might of anyone
Except the Almighty Lord and that of
                                The African Mother

Melancholic you are a sprawled shadow
Underneath the sacred loft of
                                The African Mother

O! Sable Hawk, how much longer
Imprisoned by love within the nest of
                                The African Mother

Isn’t there much shame like doves
Pecking at the hungry mouth of
                                The African Mother

How much longer pretend to be the Messiah
Father-less seeking the holiness of
                                The African Mother

O! Pearl of all orphans, alas! unstrung
Scattered about the palatial court of
                                The African Mother

In spite of the ailment of this affliction
Forget not the loving heart of
                                The African Mother

Be grateful! Though your time is already up
Soon the time shall also run out for
                                The African Mother
Confuse not the sands underneath her slight steps with anything of this earth for her steps affects me in a manner not easy to unfold: She is indeed walking graciously upon the gardens of Eden.
Confuse not her gaze upon her son that of a lowly African woman, with certainty Beloved the All-Seer has full grasp of her vision: An everlasting Divine stare upon her ailing child to sooth her aching heart.
Confuse not their fate as the conclusion:  She is gone and her child has succumbed to AIDS and their home no longer. Never! They are alive indeed! Well provided by the Beloved of heavens and earth, homed in verdant gardens of Eden where underneath the blooming canopies flow the rivers of eternity and her cup runneth over…
Background: “I have been sick for 10 years now,” says Joseph, here carried by his mother Dorika outside their home in Bugarika, in Tanzania's Great Lakes region. “When it is warm and dry I spend my days sitting outside my house. I read the bible and people pass by and talk with me.” AIDS was first documented in the Great Lakes region of central Africa 15 years ago. (June 97)

This poem was written many hundreds of years ago in Shervan, Iran. The legendary poet Khaqaani wrote this for his mother. I adapted the verses for all the wordless Africans dying from AIDS. The poem is sarcastic towards the son to magnify the mother, a Farsi tradition.

© 2004-2002,  By Dara Shayda