January 01, 2010

Two poems


Mothers Sing a Lullaby
(after the 1994 Rwandan genocide)

Mothers sing a lullaby
As the dark descends on trees
Shutting out shadows.
The sensuous voices swish and swirl
Around shrubs and overgrown grass
Hiding mountains of decapitated dead
And the glint of machetes
That slashed shrieking throats.

In these camps without happiness
Mothers maintain the melody of life
Capturing wistful wind
To sing strength into the souls of children
Who have never known
The taste of morning porridge
Or heard the chirrup of crickets in the evenings.

Mothers sing a lullaby
For the staring faces
Who cringe at the sound of footsteps
Whose playmates are grinning skeletons.

Mothers become a lullaby
Silencing the sirens of sorrow
Restoring compassion to the nation.


My Mother in Three Photographs

Her face looks out
her sexuality electric
in a mini dress and sheer satin stockings
the girls of the 1960s
beautiful beyond belief.
She is looking through the camera
like her space is here and beyond
enchanting and enchanted
by the times when dreams of freedom were young
the fortunes of Uganda
hot and sizzling.

My mother in the 1970s
More sombre but her skin
Still flawless
The abrasive years gentle on her youth.
Her body wrapped in a long nylon dress
stopping her ankles and
full sleeves touching her wrists
hooded sorrow in her posture
the flowing dress
is not because
she is a widow (which is by government action)
but it is a government decree.
Her magnificence and elegance
Seem to support the given name of the dress
Amin nvaako.

My mother in the 1990s
neat short hair
luring in its intricate curls.
She wears a busuuti
a sign of the times
a return home, a finding of
uncertain peace
a maturing of a woman and nation
an endorsement of a recognition of the troubles
she has weathered
a sitting down to count her losses and blessings
and a hand over of the future.

P.S. Amin Nvaako means Amin let me be or Amin leave me alone


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