Poetry for Ebola

SowLast week, middle school faculty member Karim Sow’s homeroom took charge of the middle school Meeting for Worship. They decided to make queries about the Ebola epidemic. Karim read a poem that he had written about the disease. Karim is originally from West Africa so this calamity is close to home for him. People around the middle school asked him to share his poem with the rest of the MB community:


Lingering into the river, years after years

Will never turn the tree log into a crocodile

Words of wisdom handed to me from the Ebola nations

I was made inside the warm womb of the Ebola nations

I was raised around the sight striking swamplands of the Ebola nations

I live to be a seed of survival from the Ebola nations

Gueckedou in Guinea was my cozy crib,

Monrovia in Liberia was my spacious room

And Pamlap in Sierra Leone my lovely house

I still belong there as much as I will always belong here

The Emigrant is a bet of hope in the game of destinies

Walking the steps of tomorrow, he carries in his soul the weight of yesterday


Here I am, one of us enjoying the beautiful fall

Leaves changing their fine-looking colors remind me

The fluctuating shades of my sick nephew’s declining body

Here the greenish turns yellowish and later reddish

Sweeping away the dawdles of a very clement summer

As if nature was playing its serenade on the landscape keyboard

Over there, my nephew’s skin declined from yellowish fever to bloody buttons

Mercilessly, the Ebola larva is chewing up its body from inside out

Darkening his dreams, slashing his hopes under the pergola of fear

As if his poor life wasn’t already miserable enough


One day, it was cliques of mercantile vessels shredding the Atlantic

Opening the dark doors of Goree and closing the full belly of the slave ship

To drain away to the Americas millions of my relatives.

Tears, sweat and blood diluting in the raging waves of the ocean

My people overcame the hemorrhage of its sons and daughters


Another day, it was the European wind spreading its veil of alienation

From the Nile Valley to the peak of the Kilimanjaro

Over the eternal sands of the Sahara and the Kalahari

Slashing near death the millenarian culture of my ancestors

My people overcame the colonial foolishness of fading empires


Today, it’s the Ebola worm sucking the soul of my people

Equal opportunity killer, it hits with no discrimination

Men, women, children of all ages and occupations

I scream my rage but I keep my hope

My people will overcome this wide-spreading curse


Karim Sow teaches French and Spanish in MB’s middle school. He has taught at Moses Brown School since 1994. He also coaches soccer here, serves as the middle school co-diversity coordinator, and leads a number of other efforts after school hours, from helping other political refugees obtain refugee status to operating a nonprofit in Guinea which battles dropout rates by trading school supplies for soccer gear. 


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