August 9, 2009

Celebrating August 9- National Women’s Day in South Africa – a poem in solidarity

Filed under: poetry,re-creating,testimonies — newritings @ 7:44 pm


Today, we attended a community public meeting celebrating women and kamu (our son, aged 7) made his maiden speech celebrating the power of women. This took place in my home town Lenasia organized by Committed Friends and Women for Peace (they promise to write this up too). It was a truly “local and lekker affair” with chicken and veg breyani and song and dance all thrown in to pamper the mothers, sisters and those who are getting in touch with their feminist side. However in this post, I have the pleasure of using a poem sent to me by my Jamaican sister Staceyann Chin, who recently was in South Africa as part of the Urban Voices festival, organized by Southern Africa Arts Exchange. My personal contact and sharing with the whole group was amazing and i too have promised that i will write about it soon…
All Power to the Women!

Ode to a Broken Woman

survivor of wind and rain
what have you got to fear
now that you still breathing
after your father
and his fists
after his open hand laced with the poison
pumped into a thousand tiny girls screaming
silent in similar rooms

long after his lamp has gone out

you are still here
still walking
through the swamp of impossible memories
side-stepping towards the warped rhythm sliming
to poetry on your callused hands

Look up
at the bright light seeping
from your window of resolve
God is a song trapped inside your chest
breathe out

there is nothing to fear
but the ugly paralysis
of not moving
not doing what you have always done

the discomfort
of unexpected convection
will always provide
the current for your unconventional convictions

movement is how you have always danced
sing that low moan
for all those baby girls
hiding under steps
and falling unlucky from ladders
landing way too early into womanhood
sing it for me
and my mother and the midwife who delivered us both
bend all the way back
to the first time you discovered that love
could unfold itself
faithful from the kind hand of a white woman
obsessed with collecting things
and camping

Pull the kernel of laughter
from Chicago
and how you found the room
to giggle with your mother days after Barry White died

Find the connection
to those beautiful feet of yours
Step light right back into
the fight you already know
jump into the fracas of days frenzied with your fire
and your bullet sharp focus

Trust the same compass
that has brought you this far
release your fanged wings again
woman crouch
but only in preparation for the lunge
plunge one arm/shoulder deep into the swirling sky
break open the clouds that hang there
soar upwards
your silhouette rimmed with purpose and silver lightning
feel the frightened flesh fall away from you
funnel your face into the flight
show all the world watching
that a wounded phoenix
can still fly

If we do not speak, who will?



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