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from the January 2019 issue

Beneath a Pile of Rubble

The poet eulogizes the revolutionary fighter and guerilla leader of Algeria's National Liberation Front, Ali la Pointe.
 

Pour Ali la Pointe

 

Here where each day calls out to our suffering

Here where each step chains our desire for hope

Here where everything cries out misfortune violence famine

Here where blood is confirmed silently and grief gains ground

He died. Died buried under a pile of rubble

While he trampled hatred down with his proud blood

So that the roots of his impatient people

Would grow knotty in the shadow of the flag 

Gray tears, so slow to cool

Endurances curved round the sacred fire 

Because they wanted to condemn our long

Arid thankless processions to the shadows 

Because they wanted to tear up our lives 

At the borders of oblivion

Ali La Pointe, son of a land that took up arms 

Sole penance, disturbing spacious nights

Who wrestled down infamy, devoured disdain

At first sight of their guns

 

Here he is indicting at one more meeting

Their blood-gorged breath; he is there

For those who know the universe at the dark hour

Of Servitudes 

Furies of one shared past!

His face—mirror of cruelties—where a chorus of cries

Fuses our hope, sharpens our freedom

Here he is again, living hostage in the wrinkles around

Our eyes where the new sun has driven away 

Shame and emptiness forever. I say: spotted, wrinkled, polished fruits.

We sow because death is determined

Because death is stronger than hunger

O mother country, he called you Certainty before his rapture

Then gave himself to the flames to restore 

Your sovereign brightness. 

 

Yesterday strapped down once more by insults of the lords and masters

Swallowed up by incest misery

He loved the humble, set tenderness free

Devoured the past

At the multiple hour of inheritance

When our joy tells the beads of present freedoms

When his name is whispered in our silences

I cry out: Child of the Casbah

Spring thaw on the ramparts

You broke the chains of the forbidden gardens
 

“Sous un tas de décombres” © Djamal Amrani. Translation © 2019 by Marilyn Hacker. All rights reserved.  

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