Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

My Grandmother Breaks Her Hip

Enlarge poem

My grandmother says we’ve brought her here to die.

Her paranoia probes under our fingernails
with a splintered stick,
splitting the tissue-beds, prying us apart.
We give her pills for our pain.

Her cataracts cloud over
her unlettered bewilderment.
but she can still see old blood on the ceiling
of the state hospital.

My mother is wrung, she can’t sleep.
Guilt stretches out on her bed,
nesting on sheets of the unsigned hospital plan.

We’ve had to put a price on my grandmother.
The doctor at the private clinic tells my uncle
hip operations costs hundreds of thousands
and old people don’t make it that far.

Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

Featured Poem:

Dear Katy

Enlarge poem

I was told you are buried in the row
alongside the highway
under a tree
along the fence I walked to them
reading names heavy with someone’s longing
none of the Khadijas I found were you Katy
I saw a man with a prayer book in his hand
standing as still as the trees and
I didn’t want to break what he had by the
leaves that would have crushed under my foot
and I left
not having found you
but knowing that the prayer I sent from my car
will get to you somehow
we could picnic in your cemetery
the sweeping spaces clipped green
and neat
the benches good for cupping us
between the hum of traffic
and the slow hush of grass
sectioned off by census of faiths
in death too we choose to lie close to our own
you would have told me so
perhaps it is that when we rise again
it will be among comforting commiserators
or if we did happen to call upon God by a rightful name
there’d be no rubbing our neighbours’ noses
in more dirt than they were accustomed to
red mounds of heaped soil for most Muslim graves
green perspex stenciled names
prayers for the highest stages in Heaven
among the few entombed and headed by
granite supplications more adamant
and then there are some with a clutch of
scratched-on plywood sticks
like plant markers
these grave gardens
grief wistfulness tend
careful beds of succulents
blooms flourishing both wild and contained
in pots and vases like
ornaments in your mother’s display cabinet
I will return to look for your tree
in this nursery of loving wives devoted husbands
dear friends and fallen angels
I will look for you in the golden hour
when the day draws over your grave
gentle and warm God tucking you in for the night
and it feels like we’re nearing
the end of something perhaps
a hope that Death will not sneak up behind us
but walk towards us giving us
time to prepare.

15q1y8i

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (1)
  • Sadness (1)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Saaleha Idrees Bamjee is an editorial consultant and photographer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is learning how to read and write through Rhodes University’s MA Creative Writing programme.

Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

15q1y8i
15q1y8i

Biography

Saaleha Idrees Bamjee is an editorial consultant and photographer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is learning how to read and write through Rhodes University’s MA Creative Writing programme.

My Grandmother Breaks Her Hip

Enlarge poem

My grandmother says we’ve brought her here to die.

Her paranoia probes under our fingernails
with a splintered stick,
splitting the tissue-beds, prying us apart.
We give her pills for our pain.

Her cataracts cloud over
her unlettered bewilderment.
but she can still see old blood on the ceiling
of the state hospital.

My mother is wrung, she can’t sleep.
Guilt stretches out on her bed,
nesting on sheets of the unsigned hospital plan.

We’ve had to put a price on my grandmother.
The doctor at the private clinic tells my uncle
hip operations costs hundreds of thousands
and old people don’t make it that far.

Featured Poem:

Dear Katy

Enlarge poem

I was told you are buried in the row
alongside the highway
under a tree
along the fence I walked to them
reading names heavy with someone’s longing
none of the Khadijas I found were you Katy
I saw a man with a prayer book in his hand
standing as still as the trees and
I didn’t want to break what he had by the
leaves that would have crushed under my foot
and I left
not having found you
but knowing that the prayer I sent from my car
will get to you somehow
we could picnic in your cemetery
the sweeping spaces clipped green
and neat
the benches good for cupping us
between the hum of traffic
and the slow hush of grass
sectioned off by census of faiths
in death too we choose to lie close to our own
you would have told me so
perhaps it is that when we rise again
it will be among comforting commiserators
or if we did happen to call upon God by a rightful name
there’d be no rubbing our neighbours’ noses
in more dirt than they were accustomed to
red mounds of heaped soil for most Muslim graves
green perspex stenciled names
prayers for the highest stages in Heaven
among the few entombed and headed by
granite supplications more adamant
and then there are some with a clutch of
scratched-on plywood sticks
like plant markers
these grave gardens
grief wistfulness tend
careful beds of succulents
blooms flourishing both wild and contained
in pots and vases like
ornaments in your mother’s display cabinet
I will return to look for your tree
in this nursery of loving wives devoted husbands
dear friends and fallen angels
I will look for you in the golden hour
when the day draws over your grave
gentle and warm God tucking you in for the night
and it feels like we’re nearing
the end of something perhaps
a hope that Death will not sneak up behind us
but walk towards us giving us
time to prepare.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (1)
  • Sadness (1)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

My Grandmother Breaks Her Hip

Enlarge poem

My grandmother says we’ve brought her here to die.

Her paranoia probes under our fingernails
with a splintered stick,
splitting the tissue-beds, prying us apart.
We give her pills for our pain.

Her cataracts cloud over
her unlettered bewilderment.
but she can still see old blood on the ceiling
of the state hospital.

My mother is wrung, she can’t sleep.
Guilt stretches out on her bed,
nesting on sheets of the unsigned hospital plan.

We’ve had to put a price on my grandmother.
The doctor at the private clinic tells my uncle
hip operations costs hundreds of thousands
and old people don’t make it that far.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.