poem index

poet

Mahtem Shiferraw

Printer-friendly version
Mahtem Shifferaw

Mahtem Shiferraw is a writer and visual artist from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Her poetry collection, Fuchsia (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), received the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She divides her time between Los Angeles, California, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

by this poet

poem
This is not how it begins
but how you understand it.
 
I walk many kilometers and
find myself to be the same—
 
the same moon hovering over
the same, bleached sky,
 
and when the officer calls me
it is a name I do not recognize,
a self I do not recognize.
 
We are asked to kneel, or
stand still, depending on
2
poem

My ancestors are made with water—
blue on the sides, and green down the spine;

when we travel, we lose brothers at sea
and do not stop to grieve.

Our mothers burn with a fire
that does not let them be;

they whisper our names
nomenclatures of invisibility
honey-dewed faces

2