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Somaliland

Сомалийский полуостров

I remember that night, that place,
the moon so low in the sky.

And I remember how I could not look away
from its golden path.

How light, there. And birds sing.
And flowers bloom above pools,

And there on the moon no one hears the roaring of lions
filling every crack in the earth,

And no prickly mimosa thorns clasp at you, there,
as you walk through the abyss of night!

That night, as shadows had just begun to crawl,
the Somalis came closer

And their chief, with his shaggy red hair,
pronounced my death,

His eyes lowered, but mocking
at how few men I had.

Tomorrow there will be war, nervous, merciless, boring,
war with a howling black crowd,

Tangles of bodies under camels' feet,
poisoned spears and arrows,

And I thought, painfully, that up on the moon, up on that moon
no enemy could crawl up at me.

At midnight I woke my people.
The ocean roared, behind the hill.

Sailors were dying, out at sea, and we earth-men
were waiting to die in the dark.

We left. The grass breathed
like a lion's sweaty hide,

And among the sacred black rocks
we saw piles of bones and skulls.

No more horrible place in all Africa: Somaliland.
No place more dismal,

Nowhere more white men speared in the darkness
alongside sandy wells

So Ogaden can count the killings
with the voices of hungry hyenas.

And when, before dawn, the moon bent down,
different, now, terrible and red,

I knew that, like a knight's shield,
she burned with eternal glory, but for heroes,

And I ordered the camels staked out and trusted
my soul to my gun.

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