Pole sana

D’Arcy Randall


English-speakers learning Swahili often translate pole sana as “very sorry,” and relate the phrase to polepole, or “proceed slowly.”


A friend came round today. He bowed and offered me Extreme
Sorriness, great reeking blooms of it.

I don’t know why. He only said: Pole sana.
Then left slowly but completely, shame discharged.

Now I feel obliged to wander place to place, seeking the reason,
slowly, as instructed.

It’s such a shame. I’ve been so happy
planted here, going nowhere.

Last month my parents died, I buried them;
Last week, children arrived, I raised them.

For days then I was like some fever tree, stretching my crown
this way and that, giving wrong directions to the clouds.

What if every man I’ve known will crawl across the plains
singing in deep hosannas: Pole sana!

Perhaps they would be all together: Wildebeests in
Great Migration, rolling from the far horizon, mortified.




D’Arcy Randall was raised and educated in Louisiana and New England. Serendipity took her to Queensland, Australia, where she lived for many years before returning to the USA. A founder of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, she now lives in Austin, Texas.



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