The night is dark, as dark can be.
Our huts are filled with noises of snoring,
spiders knitting, rats hunting for scraps of food,
and ants building mansions underground.
Suddenly, flames of fire appear on one hut;
loud wails are heard, “The house is on fire!”
“What is happening?” we ask each other. No one answers.
Another hut is ablaze, and another, the whole village is!
We run to and fro in frenzy
like violent waters in a broad river.
We bump into each other
like sand particles in a whirlwind.
There are hunters running round with guns
catching young women and men specifically.
One, two, thirty… we are shackled together;
hundreds of us are paraded on a long journey
to the coast of Zanzibar.
I do not think we will set eyes on our village again.
When the sun bids goodbye to the moon and stars
death sets out on an errand to pluck a life; here, and there
and hauls it off from the world of the breathing.
His frozen hands snap breath
He plucks off the old and the young, rich and poor
known and unknown – like a leaf from a tree branch
and carries their souls away
to retire them to the world of the silent.
A cry of agony goes up to fill the air
when the horrible deed is fully realized
and when the lament is uplifted, people gather together in homes
like wintertime wafts, and sigh sad anthems
as we post our beloved to that other world
we know not much about.
One winter night
The wind was angrier than ever.
She wrapped the earth in an icy blanket
and froze the night with her breath.
Like a vessel sailing the seas
she marched up and down
usurping the whole Kulamula village.
The rough winds entered our bones and we trembled.
With her mighty breath, like dashing waves that spread their current,
She forced us to go under-cover.
We coiled; millipedes in not-so-warm blankets.
No soul went out of the hut to gaze at the moonlight that night.
Our bodies quaked under the covers. Like lawn-mowers we trembled
and night birds’ music echoed our hissing sounds
as angry moans the fierce wind incessantly made;
while stretching her hands wide, stroking our ears
and sinking her teeth into our flesh.
We vibrated to the freezing edges of the her teeth,
Tears coursed down our cheeks,
rushing to wet our frozen-dead lips.
Martin Chrispine Juwa is a history teacher and poet from Malawi. He has one poetry anthology to his name, titled Drifting Smoke. His poems are published, or are forthcoming, in about 43 print and online magazines, journals and anthologies, including Project Muse, JAYL (Issue 2), 3 BNAP Anthologies, LOCKDOWN 2020, Pangolin Review, HELD Magazine, Strange Births, Childhood Anthology, Pensive Journal, Afreecan Read, Scibble Magazine, and The Poet Magazine. Two of his poems are translated into Spanish and appear in the Libero America Journal.