Benin: Femme Noire Ma Mere (excerpt) | Paulin Joachim

O Mother I see you dressed like your sisters in brief loin-cloth

Drawing telluric strength from the baptismal waters

I see you at the evening mass

I see you splendid breaking into the dance

With ceaselessly swaying hips

You are a blazing ripple at the foot of the houngan

and seemingly bonelessly supple beneath strong spices…


Paulin Joachim
 is a Beninese poet, journalist, and editor. His two volumes of poetry are Un nègre raconte (1954) and Anti-grâce (1967). In 2006 he was among the winners of the W. E. B. Du Bois medal.


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