Cécile Oumhani

Crosser of shores

undeterred crosser of shores
you count the clouds
between your window and dawn
you gather along the strand
the mother’s words
those she slipped and rolled
in the skein of her languages

in winter at Christmas time
she hung them on a line
by the fireplace beside pictures
she got from the letter-box
at the bottom of the garden
chilled to the bone
they needed warming up
besides they did not ring
like the words of other schoolchildren
you find them again
nesting in shells
and you hum
the mother’s lost song
throbbing so deep
in each of your veins
beating the ground as you walk

for hours you sort
the colors of her landscapes
under the rain
those she kneaded and baked
for you with the morning bread
stray resident from countries
you had never seen
and where she belonged
you did not know
you belonged there too
you lived
in a city with no shores
and the evening swans
would draw them
in the sky at sunset
with long shrill calls
the mother embroidered them
then put them into envelopes
she sent off to another continent
time has painted the shores
and her letters on cloths
dripping from the trees
after the storm
you hang them out at the window
and hold in your cupped hands
all the paths
no one had heard about
in the city without shores

your hands glow
in the night
filled with houses
and faces
from out there
and you walk on
undeterred crosser of shores

cecile Cécile Oumhani is a poet and a novelist. Her writings often deal with issues like exile, otherness and mixed identities. Her novel Le café d’Yllka (Elyzad, 2008) won the Prix Littéraire Européen de l’ADELF in 2009. She participates in many anthologies, festivals and readings in France and abroad (Tunisia, Morocco, Italy, Spain…). She also contributes to literary magazines (“Europe” in France or more recently “Words Without Borders”).

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