Jwabi - By Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro


By Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro


The master walks around us, Jwaabi

here we are, Jwaabi

two slaves

two similar with distant color skin

with different lenguas

do not know why he called me Teresa, Jwaabi

do not know why he called you Juana, Jwaabi

my mother use to sing my name

me, Tshanwe


esa soy

as it was the tambora

as it was the rain over my head

while my continent is screaming

rain sticks open their mouths

kalimba drums dancing

marimba ankle shaker

as there is no kingdom warrior after us

to capture me and my sisters

my brothers

my little ladies to play with

djembe doum doum

bougarabou hand percussion

while looking for giraffes and turtles

my little lionesses

my pets

my weak ones

those who cry even if they are strong

even if they are tall

my dark muscles

like mangrove monsters


the master walks around us, Jwaabi

yo soy Teresa

or Therese

tú eres Juana

or Jane

he desenfunda his penis

it’s my time to wait

until he’s finished with you


you’re not crying this time

brave guerrera

the sound of my voice is no maraca

no flute

there is no sound, actually

ngoma moropa balapho power

nada de voz

and you look in my eyes

I look in yours


I remember middle passage

I recall the waves

the saltwater vomits

the excretory pains

while my fingers play with the maderos of the boat

I remember el tumbaquetumba

the girl next to me who touched my elbow

and died the next morning

the mother who committed asphyxia to her baby boy

those two women

friends from the same village

glitter in four pupils

magic in four eyebrows

they make a promise to each other


the light skinned one

bit the other in the neck

both closed their eyes

© Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro

One Response to “Jwabi - By Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro”

  • Nemir says:

    Having read your work in Spanish, I find this piece a personal, poignant and piercing testament of our "Todo Mezclado" through centuries of slavery, colonization and affirmation of self.

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