Girl’s Song for the Game of Pots

Leader:
We mould a pot as our mothers did.
The pot, where is the pot?

Cooking pot.

Chorus:
The pot it is here.
We mould the pot as our mothers did.
First, the base of the pot.

New pots drying in the sun.

Leader:
Strip by strip and layer by layer,
Supple fingers kneading the clay,
Long fingers moulding the clay,
Stiff thumbs shaping the clay,
Layer by layer and strip by strip,
We build up the pot of our mother.

Chorus:
We build up the pot of our mother,
Strip by strip and layer by layer.
Its belly swells like the paunch of a hyena,
Its belly swells like a mother of twins.
It is a beautiful pot, the pot of our mother.
It swells like a mother of twins.

Brewing pots.

Leader:
Oh, clay of the river, bend to our hands,
Curve delicately,
See the strong shoulder and narrow neck.
In, children, in.
Strip by strip and layer by layer,
Supple fingers kneading,
Long fingers moulding,
Stiff thumbs shaping,
The beautiful pot, the pot of our mother.

All:
The pot, the pot of our mother.

—From Talking Drums, A Selection of Poems From Africa South of the Sahara. Edited by Veronique Tadjo

Image credits: All photographs are from John Atherton, via flickr.