Poem: “New Tongue” by Elizabeth L. A. Kamara

They speak in a new tongue And dance new dances Minds battered into new modes and shapes Their eyes revel in the wonder of the new

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New Tongue

They speak in a new tongue 
And dance new dances 
Minds battered into new modes and shapes 
Their eyes revel in the wonder of the new 
Embraced and bound to hearts with impregnable chains 
The old songs as disregarded dreams 
Remnants of a past. 
Ties of family and friendship 
Loosened, broken, burnt 
The ashes strewn into the bottomless sea 
As fishes swim by 
Careless of the loss 
Mindful of where they dare 

A new generation 
Careless of bonds 
Of family 
Of tradition 
Of heritage 
They care not 
Nor revere the old 
Their minds turn inwards 
Only inwards 
Like the insides of clothes 
That marry the bodies of mankind 
 
No room for elders 
No, 
Not even on the edge of their minds 
Their ears blocked to the old tongue 
And ways of doing things 
 
Glorying in their new newness of a borrowed tongue and culture 
Every man 
For himself 
By himself 
Of himself 
A strange coldness descending like snow covered mountain 
Or like bathing at the back of the house 
On a rainy July day 
The gusts of wind falling trees 
Carting roofs away 
Tugging skirts 
And swirling debris in the air 
 
Their borrowed shoes dance 
Their borrowed minds parted the red sea long ago 
They hang the last lock on their culture 
And glide into the future 
Without a backward glance.


— Elizabeth L. A. Kamara

Source:

Kamara, E. L. A. (2020). New Tongue. In To Cross for a Daughter and other Poems (pp. 68–69). Sierra Leonean Writers Series.

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