Speak again wind, blow through the virtual hair of my head.
I hear my children's voices in the yard,
I hear them gone on the stairs. It's hard,
But I can't touch them anymore than a jump to the ceiling.
They became beard-faced altered versions of me bustling
Through the challenges of life, baritone on the phone
Ordering me around, but basically never around.
I hear their children's voices in the yard,
I hear them going up the stairs. It's hard
To believe yesterday's a shadow I throw over dinner when
We meet to walk back to the plaid sheets I tugged over them:
Baby smiles, baby cries, dancing around to close baby eyes.
All those I have bottled inside, like chutney on a shelf.
Ripe the garden plants, bright the flowers they bear
For bees to frolic and play till in future fruits be bare.
But I look at the flowers and see the petals fall.
Have you seen it before? Beauty and the Beast?
One petal drops to the floor: Thriller’s gone, the man in the mirror
fades into history, losing colour, washed by tears and more
Harmonising Whitney, oh that’s a petal of my childhood I’ll
Misstep with tears as it sways and twists in the miracle of her wind
Not fast, not furious, gently falling, while Paul Walker walks
The stairway to heaven, staring at another petal on the aging rose
I watch them go, the falling petals, like the hair on my head,
Like the black in my chin, I watch the clock take one by one
And replace with something new, different, strange, something afraid
To ride my roller coaster heart, unlike those petals first to join
When life was a song, and the future was sunshine and childhood fun.
The fish wiggle in the noise of tweeting birds blocked out by the polluted water
Trickling away in a little creek, under the bridge of my childhood quarter.
I’m laughing, but I know not why, then reach, catch one, reach further
Get a pair in a container, of which substance or colour I can’t recount here.
My friends on my side are mere shadows saying silence that made me chuckle
And we’d take these creatures to our homes to put in spare juice bottles
And feed them, watch them constrained to swim in a narrow aquarium
And I guess I was glad, but must have cried when it was time for requiem.
The trees I climbed with my siblings are still green, and the leaves rustled
As we went up to grab fruit with more shadows. And the wind bustled
By on its journey, bringing farm scents to my nose, the good and bad jostled
There, and I don’t remember which dominated the other in that tussle
But only that they were there, as we climbed and laughed away care
Talking of our stories, football on the tarmac with a whole throng of peers
And I know for a fact we went to the funeral of one of them at some point,
Or their parent…If you ask me which it was exactly, I don’t know it.
I recall as we got older and dared to talk to the girls, shivering like rain-beaten reeds,
And walking together to watch movies straight from Hollywood’s steeds
And the advent of cable, and a bunch of stories of which I can but catch seeds:
My first cigarette, a horror movie, some novel dad bought, buying school needs,
The day I fell into the bush picking up a ball and gashed my shin bleeding,
Or the machete accident, or the shell on the house wall, mum crying at me leaving,
My best friend leaving, projects of flying cars, some intricate software,
Recording my first song, a piano, some notes, a chord, some staves, a snare.
Each meeting with one of these seeds from the shadow that lived before now,
Where I waded in gathering souvenirs which got broken with each new now
Is like a stab to Caesar’s neck, leaving me sad inside, beaten, for they feel I disavow
Our history, the bond…despite my craving to remember each low and each wow,
To recall when we were where with what and why, and how we made it through,
And my cats I fed and petted, and came back to hear had turned to evening food
And the rats we tortured, and the birds captured…all these I wish I still knew
The beautiful and horrible memories lost from my childhood and adulthood.
I just realised after writing this today morning that this is the first poem I’ve dedicated to my late paternal grand mum thinking about her on this day dedicated to older persons, who struggle in the modern world. The real coincidence is in the fact that this is happening on the day of her patron saint : St. Theresia.
So what can I say, RIP beloved Tsimi Theresia Pisoh aka U’uwu, we loved you lots, and we’ll see again by God’s will.
It’s night, and the termites are misting the veranda
On which we sit together and swat away, missing and hitting,
Then retire to the inside, you, my siblings and I.
I’m too young to understand the words you bandanna
About my head of past events like the friend you were skitting
In that one story, painting to us your comic side.
The smile on your face for the happy tales from that long ago
Lights up my heart, even though I don’t understand the sentences,
Nor the importance of understanding them now for later.
The tears that hide from the sad tales, from the gun and bomb echo
As you ran in fields at that first war, have my heart on picket fences
To see that pain, to relive through the jaws of the alligator.
But I relished every instant you brought us to that far away era,
And the candy you shared, and the advice…not always followed
My encyclopedia, my history book, the only type of history to love.
I felt Death toy with my infant soul each time he came a lil’ nearer
And the doctors would struggle to keep with you that breath borrowed,
Giving me more life, more time to really internalize what you spoke of.
It’s night U’uwu, and you’re not here, and I regret when I couldn’t sit
To care for my lovely gramma, wondering where you get all these stories
Wondering why an adult would need so much support, while dad, mum
They’re so strong, so big, like you, diving in and out of lion pits,
Lifting mountains, I thought you were strong, U’uwu, your allegories
Were stronger than dad’s, mum’s, and you’d given dad strength serum.
Where did it go? Why do you walk so slow, while you ran in your tales?
Where did the teeth go? Why are you bent over, U’uwu, what’s wrong
That your strength fled your body at time’s command, leaving this frail
Person, unlike the picture I could make from the time of bomb hails?
And now you’re gone U’uwu, and I miss you after answering my question
As dad,mum get your ageing strength, and I crawl behind on that same rail.
I miss the days when each rock was a boulder,
When peeling off the skin of a cheese triangle
Decorated with a smiling cow was such a wonder.
I miss running up trees and around the concrete jungle
Aimlessly full of hope, happy to be life’s soldier,
Fighting for dad’s cause, adhering to mum’s angle.
I miss bewilderment at technical prowess in elementary solder
As the capacitors sprung back to life in that CRT National.
The world’s years are now heavy on mine and life’s such a ramble
At this stage where I can feel it all on my shoulder.