Khal Torabully

Translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson

from Cargo Hold of Stars

The vessel led our star into the tidal bore.
Crumbs of leaden light dispersed
into the flesh of jellyfish and rays.
And you went on and on,
saying I shouldn’t invent
shadows cast by crustaceans’ feet.

                       for I. Banian

In our stories of sandmen
black coral is lingering shadow.
Turning our eyes toward the wall,
salt is a jewel box, sea froth its pearl.

In my former country of light
stars guided streams,
and a woman diverted the sea
so that each distant word was for me a tearing.

Khal Torabully, from Mauritius, is a prize-winning poet, essayist, film director, and semiologist. Author of over 25 books, he coined the term “coolitude” to give voice to indentured workers, imbuing the term with dignity and pride. Torabully’s linguistic acrobatics (wordplay and neologisms) serve to heighten the seriousness of his themes.

Nancy Naomi Carlson has authored nine titles (6 translated). She has received grants from the NEA and Maryland Council for the Arts, and was a finalist for the BTBA and the CLMP Firecracker Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in the APRThe Georgia Review, and

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