Breaths - a poem by Birago Diop

Read at Marcus Alexis memorial service by Peggy Pizzo


BREATHS

Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis the ancestors' breath when the fire's voice is heard
Tis the ancestors' breath in the voice of the waters


Those who have died have never left
The dead are not under the earth
They are in the rustling trees
They are in the groaning woods
They are in the crying grass
They are in the moaning rocks

Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis the ancestors' breath when the fire's voice is heard
Tis the ancestors' breath in the voice of the waters

Those who have died have never left
The dead have a pact with the living
They are in the woman's breast
They are in the wailing child
They are with us in our homes
They are with us in this crowd
The dead have a pact with the living.

Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis the ancestors' breath when the fire's voice is heard
Tis the ancestors' breath in the voice of the waters

adapted from poem by Birago Diop,
music by Ysaye m. Barnwell (c) 180
Barnwell's Notes Publishing (BMI)
P.O. Box 32164 Washington, DC 20007

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