The following is from a discussion at the AALBC website many years ago. I have not (at this writing) met Kola in person, but we did connect virtually, and our connection felt to me at the time (and still does) as “other worldly” and by that I mean “ordained.”
Kola (Naima) and I are both products of inter”racial’ unions, and our lives, our work, our relationships and our selves have been deeply affected in both similar and divergent ways by our “mixture” of African and European DNA, and the resulting phenotype (and life experiences) we inherited.
Kola Boof:Posted On Friday, October 29, 2004
Well…I hadn’t planned on debuting my poem for Kathleen Cross yet…but she wrote such a beautiful one for me.
Anyway, I’m such a “different” kind of poet than Kathleen and others here. My works are very “psycho”, LOL….and sometimes, as with this poem for Kathleen…require set up.
The poem is called “Angels and Insects”. Because those are the two forces that I think about when I think of Kathleen.
The angel of the title is her soul and her essence (I think of her as angelic and sincere)…the insect of the title is the African’s constant battle with locusts and the red ant vs. the black ant…in other words…”color” and the way that it has both blessed and cursed all of us, and in Kathleen’s case…presents a strange riddle for both her and her African kin.
The poem itself has nothing to do with the above, however.
The poem is about “unconditional” love and Kathleen’s special relationship with GOD and humanity.
NOW….here comes the problem.
I can’t write ANYTHING unless it comes to me, unforced, in the gravity and weight that it brings with itself. And this poem, came to me from my feelings about my birth mother and what I imagine she felt for me. Therefore, I have to translate just a “few” words from her language before you read the poem.
is the ancient capital city of the Waaq (my mother’s tribe)
hara means “body of water” horeesa (is the man)
horooroo means (the stick of the man given to him for marriage)
Siqqee is the stick given to females for marriage and also represents the “solidarity” of all the “Gadaa” (the women’s governing body separate from men).
Walargee is the “meeting” that women have for political fellowship in Waaq society.
Whenever the women have finished meeting in Waaq society….they all scream together!! They do this after Weddings, after funerals…after a baby is born. But ONLY the women. They all get together and scream as loud as they can.
muka laaftuu means a “soft woman/virginal”
…For those of who’ve read my books…you know that the DOLPHIN is my very favorite animal and I often use it to represent either me or other women.
In the poem, Kathleen is a Dolphin….who is either dying or being born, but also getting married.
“Angels and Insects”
A poem for Kathleen Cross
By KOLA BOOF
hara horeesa/ horoo-roo
(the groom is coming for her out of the sea!)
Gather us this last time Aloona (dolphin)
For we promise you a wedding veil made of white pooku violets;
muka laaftuu…and our prayers upon your ivory cheek like kisses
of a mother walking to the gates of rich men.
Stand even barefoot, daughter!
For now that he has dreamt you into being
and your breasts flood with milk and honey
and your lips spill songs of Caabudwaaq
We cannot deny that you are bleeding/Coming to life
Rising from the earth’s core: your twin hungers and
Your white porcelain foot, just barely leaving fire…as we
set you to the Sea…the open water…har Siqqee
So that all your mothers may scream together.
We, your mothers who dreamt you into being the first time.
That you will remember the saying of African fathers burying
or giving daughters in marriage: “Return to me.”
Go now, daughter…and be alive. For us all.
(the mothers cover the daughter’s face with the Veil)
The Daughter Sings:
siqqee Gadaa (I am the bride from the women’s government)
walargee muanu lan abaarsa kavu (no curse shall stop my meetings)
muka Gadaa ofeemu ( I am the daughter of Mighty Women)
mua-mur horeesa lan (I am ready for him)
© 2004 by Kola Boof
Kathleen Cross:Posted on Friday, October 29, 2004
I already know beginning this that I don’t have sufficient words, Kola… AND I am not being dramatic when I say,
I did not get past the first three lines before my eyes begin dripping uncontrollably. I don’t think intellectually I even understood why — but when I read:
“(the groom is coming for her out of the sea!)”
I covered my face because it was too REAL for my SOUL. Before I continued reading, this thought came to me: “This is your death/birth/wedding.”
So, when I read in your next post:
“In the poem, Kathleen is a Dolphin….who is either dying or being born, but also getting married.”
That just completely BLEW ME AWAY.
There is so MUCH in every line of this poem…that is SO on target (and it feels as if no one but me can really understand what that means) I have tried to cut and paste and comment on pieces of this, but the effort to do so feels (trifling?) Not sure the word I want here. (insufficient?)
Anyway I know I’m sounding overly dramatic. I am having a moment over here.
Kola Boof: Posted on Friday, October 29, 2004
You know…when I was writing the poem (days ago it came over me to do it, because you so effortlessly tore into my “bitch fit” towards MOON and it was like hearing a long lost relative call me “Naima” when you did)….but anyway, there was this immediate feeling of my birth mother’s spirit and these words: “twin hungers and twin rebukes” (I think I told you back then)….I felt so strongly, the presence of my mother again, from when I was a child. And I thought the poem had something to do with me…but as I continued to process the images that were flowing into me (and it was ALL in her language!!, not Arabic or English)…but anyway, as the poem kept coming to me….it was obvious to me that the poem was being sent to me…FOR YOU.
So I said, “Kathleen, I’m writing a poem about you.”
I truly felt this poem “Angels and Insects”. And I have known about your “lover man’s” death for at least two years. But I really did not set out to write anything that included him…he just kept butting in–and in the Waaq language! So, I said–I guess he demands to preside over both her birth AND her death. So then it came to me, this is a kind of “wedding”.
I don’t know.
But the poem was ringing so strong in my ears and eyes and lungs for days…burning, Kathleen. It came very easily….and trust me….I HATE my mother’s language. It’s so hard for me to speak it, much less….SING IT, as the poem kept insisting that I sing it.
I am glad it is done, because it was so forceful like one of those hot flashes my U.S. mother tells me about. It made me feel very FULL.
My oldest son always reads back my work to me the next day…if it sounds right when he’s reading it, then I begin to accept it as finished.
I’m so glad that it has meaning for you.