The Madness Makes Me Homesick

by Joke Debaere

The waves here in Africa hit harder
they don’t break so gently against me as when
I was twelve in France and me and my sisters
let wave after wave break on our bodies for hours

Here the water hits you so hard
that I was surprised by it the first time
home seemed far away when I fell backwards and
collided against some rocks under the water
emerging with a little bit of bleeding
with those who were born here laughing at me

Likewise, the inequality here also
hits me harder.

It is a kind of physical, visual violence
for which I in my life,
apart from intellectual reflections.
have had little training

Here I grow muscular strength
that I, now that Europe – my homeland –
is cracking under unexpectedly intense waves –
will be able to use well in order to lift things
(morals, people and ideas, but also fear)

Here I learn that not everything breaks
when everything changes
Life can break, just like the wave
breaks into pieces against you,
but when you leave the water
it seeks and finds
its whole again

Even though people may also sometimes die
it seems that with seas it is always the case
just as weeds grow past stones
and hope arising after death
so water finds that way of being all-one
still each time you’re looking back again

I sit outside
Look out over the sea on this side of the ocean
and in the distance I hear gunfire for hours
not because there is a war
but because someone is practicing for this

yes the becoming-one of water from ‘waves in pieces’ to the ‘sea’
happens in a seemingly careless way, but to make war
requires much more discipline

just as children become a better father, mother
when they first have had the time and space
to pretend, so it is to pretend that
this port town was created

I feel homesick
as simple as the above sentence
so simply I want to find the way back to my country

I want to hear more short-sighted comments
I want to feel more violence from the increasing
racist waves, breaking against me
I want to fall over, not used to so many
coming so often, so stupidly, so short-sightedly,
so anxiously, so extreme
(I want it to break down on my own land)

not to agree with it
but in order to grow more muscular strength
I want – together – to become an anarchist army
I want to fill myself, after breaking to pieces,
with the sounds of all those who fight against this,
I want to offer another way of empowering humanity

I want to turn around one day
and see that the water – behind me –
after carrying so many dead
has found its being-one
its being one sea, its being one wave, one water

put that final wish under the ‘h’ of hope
in the shelves of my imagination

I leave it there,
I borrow it, read it again
until the title changes
and I have to search for it
under the ‘r’ of reality

though this might be a cliché
that chapter will no longer count
when reality – war, death, fighting and racism –
bring forth such big words that you cannot sail around
these generalities anymore

and so the life in the seas have shifted itself this month
from what some had seen coming
but most did not expect – that we in our own lifetimes –
would see human lives being swallowed and flushed

it has shifted, wave after wave
to what we hardly could have imagined.

the madness at home gives me a simple homesickness
(a simplistic homesick syndrome)
to go and grow muscles there too

times have changed
the waves in and around far-away France, not so soft anymore


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