The following paired poetry and visual art works are part of 40 such pairings in the Columbia (Missouri) Art League’s Interpretations IV celebration. “Farewell to a Daughter Returning to Mother Africa” is pared-down from a bilingual poem that first appeared in The Corazón Land Review (Latino Literature of the Heartland, St Louis MO, Christopher Chablé, editor), Issue 3, Fall 2015, pages 8 and 10. The Spanish version, “Despedida Africana,” appeared on pages 9 and 11.
Farewell to a Daughter Returning to Mother Africa
Go to your Africa, precious gem, May happiness be at hand. And pain always transcend To joy in the motherland A sun-hot farewell embrace Will never set me free. Seek your sun while I face Dark shadows, cold destiny Passage to African mother A path I dare not tread. Nearing, may well me smother The spice-hot smoke your fire bred. Flinty streams of dark fire, Each a penetrating dart. Arrowheads into my pyre Melt me in your bonfire's arc. But, be my overwhelming elixir, No passive, cold goodbyes. Let me imbibe your tropical liquor Ignited by your soul-fire eyes.
Detail of pastel interpretation
Williams Woods University
Beyond the Pale
Sitting in a deathly pale, bloodless and drained I await transport to the land of my ancestor He has come to know my pallid face painted And my white sickness that continues to fester Pale-face, you defiled, with guns and disease And with gifts – blasphemy that forever abounds We fought them, compromised, and then tried to please Til now, I carry your gifts to our hunting grounds For you also brought that spirited steed A gift that now be my trusted vessel To my ancestral home where white I will bleed Cleansing myself of gifts against which I wrestle
Oil by Jane Mudd
We are obliged to look inside ourselves, and to how we look at others. The year 2020, and surely its aftermath, has shaken how we perceive others and our comfortable attitudes towards “Justice for All.” (We also question our security—financial, health-wise, and societal.)
I am apart, but also very much a part Of humanity, of each Jane and John Doe The mirror shows I’m no work-of-art Just a face I present to each sister and bro’ And looking inward I see also my soul The motive force of my flesh and bones It confirms the science I always extoll We are equal but never identical clones In spite of migrations and conquest We are still indeed one united species Ignore those who claim to be the best Shatter their myths, blast them to pieces Imagine, we eight billion swarming ants Penetrating each crevice and highway But we as conquerors? Please don’t rant. Brethren, our dominion is in deep disarray Accept the miracle of “the protean race” That each brings a strand to a beautiful quilt Avoid rancor, keeping “them in their place” Don’t erode the base on which humanity’s built Social Justice: Is the fabric of our identity It keeps us all intertwined Its lack is the ultimate obscenity Without it we reject humankind
Dame Lady Spain
In March 2001, at the end of my sabbatical stay in the lab of Dr. Tomás Ruiz-Argüeso at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, I was honored with a going-away party. Typically, it included dancing, jamón serrano, and other wonderful forms of Spanish hospitality. For the occasion, I tried to write a poem of farewell and appreciation. My hosts and lab mates paid me the great favor of not laughing at my gaffes.
I thought of Spain as a lovely, fiery, and strong lady, but one with endearing vulnerabilities.
Española, Dame of mysterious identity Tell but a part of all you might be While I linger, a helpless drone at your feet Tell and surround me, in honeyed aura so sweet Also take me on a path of heaven-spiced soil Bordered with parsley, garlic, anointed with oil You mixture of signals, darkly dazzling flower Aroma mysterious, of penetrating power Immersing me in catacombs of light and dark Ancient chambers of colors both soft and stark Of thee I have savored only a lace most ethereal 'Tis but a thread of your shawl of magic material A shawl, forged o'er time, of stone and of steel That grazes my soul with a silky lace feel Because history ferocious did let you endure And distilled to the present, so sweet, if not pure It gave you your voices so varied and mixed I stare in the face of your serenade, transfixed Your hot Siren's breath demands my return In your chorus of fused blood, I willingly burn I do accept that you always hold sway I'll heed your call, I’ll not stay away Because a thousand guilds did truly bond Over days immemorial into one song That is the sweet cacophony of your gnarled web In which I'm your prey, with joy more than dread Doña España, my gratitude overwhelms For being received within your vast realm I sincerely thank your warm, sweet reception Tis engrossing just to make these reflections That I can only express with inadequate verse But a blink of a shooting star in your universe