It is from here that I send her all my love,
Addis to the source of the Nile
To the Bride of the Med
Day and night travelled
To the world of the many and contending
People fight on the boat
Rain so cold, waves 5 stories high
No place, no money for the bed
Wind hurtles us, dinghy bundles
A cargo boat throws a rope
How to walk this sea?
And people who forget how to die,
How will they swim the pool of labour's excess?
Memory creeps up on old sentiments,
A blank of unconsciousness and disuse
Dear world, who am I to condemn you?
Spare him talk of countless immortal lives,
They watch us fall into the sea,
A blindness that cannot stop seeing,
Even God can't see me here
Years have passed since that since
A bloated corpse on a sunny beach,
What else to call what remains alive in me
The bullhorns cry, the seagulls deride
But the sea is calm again
This cento is built from the verses of seventeen poems by Khaled Mattawa: Psalm of Departure, Season of Migration to the North/Northwest, Psalm on the Road to Agadez, Psalm Under Siege, Constance Song, Agadez Blues, Psalm for Crossing Nimroz, Malouk’s Ode, Into the Sea, With Lines Taken from Walt Whitman, Psalm for the Balkan Route, Song for Amadou, Trafficker Monologue, Fuel Burns, Malouk’s Qassida, Psalm for Arrival and Psalm of the Volunteer.