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.

» Comment on this translation 0 comment(s)

» Read notes
About the translation:
Reesom Haile
Charles Cantalupo
Original language:
Tigrinya (Eritrea)
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


Charles Cantalupo

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


No Comments


Browse poems

By original language »

By issue of MPT »

Go Digital

Subscribe to the digital edition of MPT for access to all back issues and to the Exactly app.» View free trial issue

Back to top
Supported by Arts Council England

Copyright © Modern Poetry in Translation and contributors
Website design ashbydesign
Developed by Code Frontiers
Powered by Storemill