A poem by Mahtem Shiferraw

Art by Gerardo Castro

Art by Gerardo Castro

Song of the Dead


I’m in love with the dead

because they don’t talk.


Sometimes they do

but merely through night whispers

when I need them the most.


At times they move slowly,


like the dance of newborns

fleshing out of the womb.


They dance because

they have nothing else to do.


But I want to think

they’re here for me —

they are my audience:


before dawn

I leave water and bread

outside windows

where thin curtains flutter

flattered by such exotic dance —


such unearthly beauty — uncertain,

new, full of mud and worms

the teeth and bones

tickling each other, oh the song

of wonders! One must have ears


and so much grief to hear them.


Mahtem Shiferraw

(Taken from the book, “Fuchsia”, published by University of Nebraska Press)



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