My Son

My Son
The moon keeps watch
and the child sleeps.
His head emerges from the covers
like a flower smiling at life.
His breath is like a nocturnal melody
His mouth like a rosebud
My son asleep
and I standing in complete silence.
Oh body that was once mine!
Oh flesh of my flesh!
My glory in being a mother bursts
Rising from the bottom of my heart
like a myriad of stars
shooting across the sky.
Long ago
you sailed in my womb
like a boat on a calm sea.
In giving birth to you
I gave life to myself.
Fatoumata Sidibé

from A Rain of Words: A Bilingual Anthology of Women's Poetry in Francophile Africa, edited by Irène Assiba d’Almeida (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2009)

translated by Janis A. Mayes

Reproduced by kind permission of the author.
Fatoumata Sidibé

Born in Bamako, Mali in 1963, Fatoumata Sidibe’s childhood was spent between Belgium, Germany and Mali. After studying journalism, economics and social sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven, she worked in Belgium as a freelance journalist, editor and translator in Brussels, and became active in politics. In 2006 she published her first novel, Une Saison Africaine (An African Season).  Her poems have appeared in several collections, most recently A Rain of Words: An Anthology of Women's Poetry in Francophone Africa (2009).

Sidibé is currently a Member of the Brussels–Capital Regional Parliament, and chairperson of the Commission on Social Affairs of the Francophone Parliament in Brussels (ACCF). In 2005, she established the Belgian branch of the French migrant women’s rights organisation, Ni Putes Ni Soumises.

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About My Son

This poem, representing Mali, is part of The Written World – our collaboration with BBC radio to broadcast a poem from every single nation competing in London 2012.