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This article is taken from PN Review 243, Volume 45 Number 1, September - October 2018.

Truth my Child (translated by Hiwot Tadesse and Chris Beckett) Bedilu Wakjira
translated from the Ethopian Amharic by Hiwot Tadesse and Chris Beckett

is not something you inherit, like a lump sum
or a language, faith; it doesn’t
populate the busy places, in the bustle

or the chatter, that’s not truth talking,
no! this little box of human bones,
God’s likeness, that’s where truth sits,  

where something in you whirrs and sings
as you peer into your depths
and dance along, whoop, weep, open your big eyes.

Mind, a row of shining teeth is not a smile,
not everyone who sheds a tear
is crying. Remember, child, the truth is shy.

We sparked a life in you, your Mum and I,
but each of us has our own heart,
our drum-beat drowns yours out or pinches it to ours.

Our only wish is to defend you like a flower
from the wind, from any evil day.
We think of Jesus in the deserts, temples, rivers,  

teaching truths he found inside himself,
so we hang the loose string of our jumbled lives
around your neck and wish you well.

Don’t call me ‘baba’, child, and question me.
I am a house of private and external truths
like bricks that jostle in the walls. But still I stand.

If they call my truths a lie, I call lies truth!
Don’t be like me, I sometimes break
into a laugh and hide behind ...

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