from “When the Rooster Announces the Dawn of Another Day”

translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson

god turns his back on us

how to interpret
the tablet of laws
translate the portent
of night

for all was already transcribed


I’m not to blame
said the migratory bird
I was gone for the winter
my only crime
is to sport the same
plumage as those in my branch

the birds of your kind
have sinned in your name


one day the moon lodged a complaint
it was heard by the darkness

but the day erased the grievance of the moon

ever since
we have lost our memory

Copyright © 2022 by Alain Mabanckou and Nancy Naomi Carlson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.