If I were an ox, an ox, a beautiful ox!
beautiful and stubborn,
a rich merchant would buy me,
buy me and slaughter me,
spread out my skin and take me to the market.
The coarse woman would bargain for me,
but the beautiful girl would buy me!
She would crush perfumes for me.
I would spend the night rolled up around her,
I would spend the afternoon rolled up around her.
Her husband would say, “It’s just a dead skin.”
But I would have my love!
~ Anonymous, trans. by Enrico Cerulli
Editor’s note: Originally published in Enrico Cerulli, ‘The Folk Literature of the Galla of Southern Abyssinia, 1917’ (Harvard African Studies)