Featured Poem

Before the Birth of Toys


Near the cattle pen
In front of my parents’ house,
I found an empty olive oil can.
Who would throw it there?
No one I knew ate so well.

I took a knife from the kitchen
And cut four holes in the tin.
I made the wheels from clay,
Beat fleshy jute leaves into string
And carefully tied it to the thing.

Vrrooom. Vrroom. Vrrrooomm.
What a great truck to pull around!
I built it a road out of sand
Painted black with powdered dung.
My sister came and I warned her,

‘Don’t you touch my truck or dare
Cross my highway,’ but she said,
‘C’mon. Let me take your car
For a spin, and I’ll teach you how to play
Handa with pebbles’ – a sissy game for boys,

Before the birth of toys.


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About the translation:
Poet:
Reesom Haile
Translator:
Charles Cantalupo
Original language:
Tigrinya (Eritrea)
Issue:
2015 Number 2 - I WISH...

About the author

Original poet

Reesom Haile

Reesom Haile was Eritrea’s first internationally known poet. He wrote in Tigrinya, one of Eritrea’s nine major languages. In...

» Read more
Charles Cantalupo

Translator

Charles Cantalupo

Charles Cantalupo's recent work includes War and Peace in Contemporary Eritrean Poetry (2009), Who Needs a Story? Contemporary... » Read more

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