Poem of the week: When Birds Arrive by Marfuga Aitkhozina

Haddy Ndure | 8 July 2019

The poems of Chinese-born Aitkhozina register the pains of forced migrations

When seasonal birds are soaring,

the heart breaks out from its nest.

My dear mother used to tell me

that when the migrant birds return

our lives are one year shorter.

When birds flap their wings

or ruffle their feathers,

it never fails to stir your heart.

Whenever birds fly, whenever they leave,

it always has a meaning

for the poet in love with verses and life.

Each year I wait for spring to arrive,

my eyes alert to its signs

as if I were waiting for one I love.

Then out of the blue my birds arrive.

They have travelled over countless peaks,

endowing the sky with splendour.

As if they were touched

by the nightingale’s song,

beads of tears drop from the leaves.

When I see the uplands

embracing each other,

so patient and splendid,

it banishes sleep.

Gazing up at the mountains,

I found it hard to shut my eyes,

dozing as fitfully as a bird.

Oh birds!



You revealed your secrets to me.

Gathering around the shores of the lake

the birds will start their feast.

Be safe and secure, wherever you go.

And though I love the ways you fly,

I’m jealous too.

I love and long each year for spring –

glorious spring and the feast of Nauryz1

as out of the blue

the birds arrive,

flying from the far.    

Nauryz – Kazakh annual holiday. In Kazakhstan, spring arrives fully on 21 March – on the special day when Nauryz is celebrated, signifying not only the spring equinox, but also renewal of nature   


From: Contemporary Kazakh Poetry, published by NBT, in partnership with
Cambridge University Press

Written by Marfuga Aitkhoza


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