Cyarwa cya nyarwaya

Cyarwa is the birthplace of my mother. She left when she was two years old and came back when she was forty, accompanied by her older brother. This poem is the story of their return after years of shared exile, in Burundi, Belgium, Ivory Coast, and France.

Your daughter returned this morning
Your son embraced you once again
Cyarwa cya nyarwaya
Your stories flow in the blood of my dear ones
Your roots are written in the lines of our hands
Cyarwa cya nyarwaya
You, the land of my grandfather
You, the heart of my grandmother
You, the home of my family
Far from you we have constructed
Far from you we have built
Other paths and other destinies
Other lives and other plans.
Cyarwa cya nyarwaya
Today we return
Today we replant
In the shadow of the eucalyptus we gather
You will tell us of your lives
We will fill in the void
You will tell us the secret of the hills
The bend of your lines
The scent of your flowers
The pain of your tears
The sweetness of your hours.
Cyarwa cya nyarwaya
Your daughter returned this morning
Your son embraced you once again.

"Cyarwa cya nyarwaya" © Michaella Rugwizangoga. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Elizabeth Applegate. All rights reserved.