Peace Orphan

A Poem by Gaston Mabaya

They look around in every direction
For the sparrow to feed on!
Incredible cry, stifled sorrow, stunned look.
The unquiet, enfeebled heart pounds frantically
– The heart of the undocumented one
Who breathed the air full of dust
Blackened by toxic, killer smoke
Spewed out by an unfair firearm.

He, a spirit of the north, south, east and west
Without color, language, gender or motion
– A spirit all the same, in the middle of nowhere,
Far, far away, where stars pass one another
At the station perched high amidst somber clouds
Rising from the scandalous degradation of the ruins.

Behold him, the Orphan,
Emerging like a sparkless lightning bolt:
Colorless, soulless, but protected by a shell
Capable of withstanding the bite of every snake
Residing in the heads of those wandering raptors
– Without mercy or luminosity
Wrapped in unwarranted authority
And looking around in every direction
For the sparrow to feed on.

Undressed, the Orphan runs everywhere in despair
Inviting shimmering, kindly glances.
He loses his fruitless, frantic race.
His head and legs are twisted
Into a noncommittal circle, not unlike
The work of the brainless monsters
Who look around in every direction
For the sparrow to feed on.

Scared, the Orphan roams about, saying nothing,
Like a butterfly flanked by a swarm of gnat larvae
– Bearers of a troubadour’s encrypted messages
Humming songs as if they were dirges
Along smoldering walls
Whose commingled muted echoes
Are replicated a thousand times
And buried in a distant suburb.

Yes, a suburb sulfurized
By the ocher of the sands of the Sahara
Far from my abode,
Me, the Orphan with the voice
Which whispers in the deaf ears
Of those ignorami blind from birth
Who look around in every direction
For the sparrow to feed on.

Far from the stares rendered sightless
By the smoke snaking out of the babbling bush
Where hatred of the last century is hatched;
The century out of whose shadow
Sprang that nameless monster,
The one with sharpened teeth in his mouth,
The Orphan is nauseated…
Yes, nauseated by the trash
Thrown up by the chimneys
Of those gas chambers of a bloodless world
Stammering out the slang of a certain tongue.
Fancy that!

Watch my shadow buried in the brain
Of this eagle – the spy whose variegated wings
Are stuck with pins;
He who flies from ocean to ocean,
Soaring high with my laundry,
My only clothes, which an angel gave me
And I have washed countless times;
Clothes soaked in unscented blood,
Which issued from the surprising brawl
Fomented everywhere by barbarians,
Barefaced, self-centered barbarians
Raring to charge,
Looking around in every direction
For the sparrow to sting!

Dispirited and naked, the Orphan flies high
Without any hope of finding a peaceful oasis
Or a manor totally out of view
Where he can camouflage his body
– The eagle having vanished with his clothes
Way up, up to a boundless place.

A place, at last, where,
Moved by God’s mercy,
Heavenly birds kill time
In this warped, ruined world.
Amidst ashes embedded here and there
In deaf, one-eyed floors,
The Orphan hears a voice
In cadence with the frenetic rhythm
Of the chant hummed a thousand times
By a nightingale, which implores and leers
Day and night.

Yes, he watches with pity and compassion
Those at the helms of nations
Purported to be wealthy
In this age besotted with selfishness.

With peace time consigned to silence,
The Orphan feels drained, disillusioned
And deprived of any hope
For a healthy future
Dedicated to justice, love and peace

In a happy world.
In spite of that, he defies fear
The passage of time, and the gravedigger.

Translated from the French by Raphael Sóne.

Gaston Mabaya Post Author

Gaston is an Electrical Engineer (University of Kinshasa in RD-Congo) with a doctorate in Applied Sciences, specializing in Optical Fibers (University of Ghent in Belgium). Dr. Mabaya has had a diverse professional career as a university professor, as Honorary Dean of the Polytechnic Faculty of the University of Kinshasa, as a researcher and international consultant, as a writer in French and English, and as a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of London, Ontario. Dr. Mabaya was named to the 2011 Mayor’s New Year’s Honour List for outstanding contributions to Diversity & Race Relations in the City of London.

The author of several books, Dr. Mabaya, is passionate about literature and education.