Sea-shaken love from ‘The Cargo Hold of Stars’ by Mauritian poet Khal Torabully

« Et ta bouche est une syllabe mûre
que seule l’empreinte des mots d’amour »

Whether you have a valentine this month or not, this love poem by prize-winning Mauritian poet and thinker Khal Torabully is not to be missed.

It comes from Torabully’s collection Cale d’étoiles-coolitude, in which the poet chooses to reclaim the word ‘coolie’, and to coin the term ‘coolitude’. This neologism, according to Torabully, expresses pride in emancipation while creating a way of reimaging the history, culture and migratory nature of the descendants of indentured labourers and slaves.

‘The Cargo Hold of Stars’ blends the weight of coolitude with the phenomenon of love.

The poem has been translated into English by Nancy Naomi Carlson for the latest issue of Asymptote:

And your mouth is a ripe syllable
that only the imprint from words of love
allows me to kiss below your lips
at the very heart of a broken sky.
And you say OM.
Why follow a siren
who lacks your tender hands?
And I say hOMbre,
may my skin in response to your carnal call
reel off words softer than your breasts.
and to think of a woman while at sea
and from so much absence be lulled.

  • Continue reading this vivid poem of nostalgia and transformation in French and English at Asymptote.

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