Salt and Metal

The metallic taste of clotted blood, like the salt from a cold sweat, seems ubiquitous. Ineradicable. Liyou Libsekal was born in 1990 in Ethiopia and currently lives in Addis Ababa. She is an award-winning author and poet and received, for instance, the 2014 Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Her poetry explores themes such as identity, origins and rootlessness. In this issue, Liyou Libsekal writes of fear and suspicion that has branded her to both body and soul, and the taste and scents of which remain constant reminders. 

May 3 2019 Text: Liyou Libsekal

At the edge, “freedom” twists—
a filthy word

we watched the television and begged for
things to keep

breath and “peace.” 

And when the bodies trickled onto the street
the faces stark, reflective 

shimmering like fields of teff, swaying together 
in the wind, the sun

the given light

we latched the doors and kept vigil
at the screen

sweating cold, historic sweat 

we watched the land stretch,
a mother shifting from sleep

the taste of gore
still stinging between her children’s lips

the stillness before eruption
still lapping at their ears

the flags billowed.

“Let the good light in!” We howled
wiping ourselves of dread and disbelief

of the markings of birth,

“she is ours, she is all of ours!”
We pull our bodies close to hers 

skin, indelible, still weeping eons of 
salt and metal

we keep watch, lest any forget.