Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Simple Life

Lullaby Singers

They step onto the golden plain and turn

Into men of iron. Midday heat

Seethes within them, and they hum

The ploughing of the fields.

The earth trembles

And roars beneath their feet,

As they sing its blessed lullaby.

It would not be strange one day

To hear ears of corn sprouting in their veins.

The warmth of the soil

Causes their blood to boil, and they are not afraid

Of open spaces, gold-grey,

Or the sepia of weak coffee.

The timeless contours of the ground

Do not stain their hands or faces.

As the cities' boom and clang make flimsy men of them,

They join the new dance, the sifting of earth, with ease

And begin their clamorous toil with bowed heads.

Their sweat, like a prankster, puts out their cigarettes

And cowers in the dark of loneliness.

Not yet hearing birds twitter overhead,

They fasten their fingers to the steel-nosed ploughs and turn

The soil. Fatigue glides off their fingernails

And wafts away.

The sun nods at them boldly

As it descends beneath the heavy breath of night.

[Këngëtarët e ninullave]


Born in the hamlet of Brrut near Rrapsh-Starja in the Malësia e Madhe district of northern Albania in 1965, Gjekë Marinaj studied journalism in Vlora and published his first news article at age sixteen. In his mid-twenties, he published an anti-communist poem called "The Horses" in Drita, a newspaper of the Albanian Writers Union. Warned that his arrest for writing the poem was imminent, Marinaj escaped the authorities by hiking through the mountains overnight and crossing the border from Albania into Yugoslavia. He carried with him only a few books and a blanket to protect him from the barbed wire at the border.
From Yugoslavia, Marinaj emigrated to the United States. Now an American citizen, he lives with his wife, Dusita, in Texas, where he is working on a Ph. D. in literary studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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