“Clothing the Dead” – Traditional Malagasy

“Clothing the Dead”

What is a locust?
Its head, a grain of corn;
Its neck, the hinge of a knife;
Its horns, a bit of thread;
Its chest is smooth and burnished;
Its body is like a knife handle;
Its hock, a saw; its spittle, ink;
Its underwings clothing for the dead.
On the ground—it is laying eggs;
In flight—it is like the clouds.
Approaching the ground, it is rain
Glittering in the sun;
Lighting on a plant, it becomes
A pair of scissors;
Walking, it becomes
A razor.
Desolation walks with it.

—Traditional Malagasy poem
—from Voices from Twentieth Century Africa: Griots and Town Criers

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