Morocco: In Vain I Migrate | Abdellatif Laâbi

I migrate in vain
In every city I drink the same coffee
and resign myself to the waiter’s impassive face
The laughter of nearby tables
disturbs the evening’s music
A woman walks by for the last time
In vain I migrate
ensuring my own alienation
I find the same crescent moon in every sky
and the stubborn silence of the stars
In my sleep I speak
a medley of languages
and animal calls
The room where I wake
is the one I was born in
I migrate in vain
The secret of birds eludes me
as does my suitcase’s magnet
which springs open
at each stage of the journey

Translated by Andre Naffis-Sahely and culled from www.poetrytranslation.org

Abdellatif Laâbi, is a prizewinning poet from Morocco who writes in French. In 1966 he founded the renowned literary magazine Souffles, a journal of literature and politics that was to earn its editor an eight-year prison sentence (from 1972 to 1981) under the authoritarian reign of Hassan II.  Laâbi received the Prix Goncourt de la Poésie in 2009 and the Académie française’s Grand prix de la Francophonie in 2011.

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

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