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by Pete Levine

The official censor of Zaire has systematically refused
to allow any songs with a love theme to be broadcast.
Which is why, musicians complain, nearly all Zairese songs
are about death, water and birds.       
                                                                                    Report from Agence France-Presse, 1976

The thirsty sigh of wind.
The rustle of dry seed.
The song of birds forlorn at dawn.

Thinking of the river
I see my mother drown once again.   

To rest beneath Ruwenzori in lazy lion heat,
a feast of zebra on the plain,
the antelopes of desire stilled,
merging with the tall grass.

The straw is damp,
the night cleft by thunder.
Birds flee the wounded river.
The long-called rain holds me prisoner
wishing a fool's reprieve. 

 

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