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My beloved son,
I received your letter
where you spoke to me like an adult
told me all about how hard you studied at school
and where I saw that your passion for learning
chased all the darkness and ugliness away
as you delved into the secrets of the big book of life
You’re confident
and you rattle off your pearls of wisdom
with the greatest of ease
You reassure me by telling me how strong you are
as though you wanted to tell me: Don’t worry about me
look how I can walk
look at where my steps take me
the horizon, the huge horizon over there
holds no secrets for me
And I picture you
with your beautiful
straight brow
I picture how proud you are

My beloved son
I received your letter
where you said:
I think about you
and I make you a gift of my life
You will never know
the effect you had on me by saying that
my crazy heart
my head among the stars
and thanks to your words
it’s no longer difficult to believe
that the Big Feast will soon arrive
the one in which children like you
who once they will become men
will take giant steps
far from the miseries of the shantytowns
far from hunger, ignorance, and poverty

My beloved son
I received your letter
You wrote the address all by yourself
spelled it out confidently
told yourself, if I do this
then Daddy will get my letter
and maybe I’ll get a reply
and you started picturing prison
the big house where people are locked up
who knows for how long and for what reason?
But this means they cannot look out on the sea
or the forest
and this means they’re unable to work
so they can feed their children
You imagine something bad
not nice
something that doesn’t make any sense
which makes you feel sad
angry beyond belief
Also you think
that the people who built prisons
must have been crazy
and many other thoughts like that
Yes, my beloved son
this is how we start to reflect
to understand human beings
to love life
to hate tyrants
and all this explains how and why
I love you
love to think about you
from the abyss of my prison


Translated from the French by André Naffis-Sahely

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