I want to live full

 

Being vulnerably human and strong in my stand

Being creative in my joy and always willing towards peace

Being still in panic that I may hear my voice whisper it’s utmost need

Always ready to give of myself, to myself, and for the sake of a world I can live freely in

I want to wade in loneliness until I accept the truth that I am not alone

I want to steal away from the crowd as a right I should always claim

I want to cry. I so rarely cry.

I want to sing because having a voice is a privilege, so is my body in all its ability

I want grace to be my love language

I am committing to dark leafy greens to keep my iron up,

Stevia and Agave to keep my blood sugar down

I will greet the morning with a kiss to my knees

I will meet the night with gratitude, content and filled with hope for a new day

I will engage my disappointment so that the child in me gets the attention she deserves

I will expect nothing but possibility

I must read.

I beg curiosity to expand the path beneath my feet

That love be my anchor

 

Cakaza Chuma (for my sister)

 

Chuma wande Siphokazi. (Be fruitful and expand, our gift)

Breathe it

Force it

Struggle it

 

Breathe-

that the graveyard of houses pushed upon each other

on valleys of refuse and

arid hills

spits you out, for you are living

Not needing to apologize that you were born

Breathe- with every right that makes you legitimate,

Even outside the marriage kraal.

 

Breathe into the spaces that honour your living

Breathe into the spaces that honour your sex,

Uncursed

Unapologetically female

Breathe beyond the fears taken for truth

You, woman, sister, daughter, child,

Breathe beyond past oppressions taken for nature

You, female, lover, thinker, dark skinned, African

Curate your realities

Experiences that speak of loving

Of hurting

Of discovery

Of knowing

Of letting go

Of coming to understand the world as it is rarely acts in your favour

Curate your voice that speaks, loudly, silently, creatively,

by mere existing

That you are an object unto yourself

Unabashedly!

 

Take deeply those breaths that claim your body your own

Struggle, sisi, struggle

That your body- hunted in all manner of vulgarity, so un-secured,

So boldly blasphemous- will break against that womanhood which banished uMama to shame; with which uMakazi (aunt) wields her whip to prepare you as a bride worthy of twelve cows

That womanhood that renders you never your own

And in breaking, take deeply the breaths that give space to you

 

Every gasp

Every sigh

Every utterance-

The grammar of your breathing,

Your living

Wages war

Stay the frontlines

 

Singamaqgwirhakazi!

Witches whose magic is breath

We insist on living

And time dare be our witness

we

we whose bodies breathe but cannot live

we with valued wombs yet condemned vaginas

we who lie with the tree of knowledge and with each other

fig leaves for a crown

and our sex our glory

we who must not love

who shan’t become

who must be delivered to the ancestral plight

we whose blood cries in our waking, our walking, above the grave

we who have always been pleading

we are unsurprised

for nothing is new to us under the glaring white of man

 

Dear PhD.,

I hope you’re worth it.

I hope you’re worth me not knowing the time I waved my mother goodbye on my way here was the last exchange between us.

I hope you’re worth my arms being too far for my brother to rest in as he wept the loss of his mother.

I hope you’re worth my writhing on the floor as my heart counts another, my darling Lungisa, to death.

I hope you’re worth the dark pit I fall into and struggle to survive every day.

I hope you’re worth my sister gaining years and changing face without me there to map the shifting of her frame

I hope you’re worth the unfriendly faces

closed doors

empty streets

ignorant minds

petty reactions

narrow perspectives

English with every breath and thought

I hope you’re worth the loss you can never restore

you had better be

 

Lungisa

Nono,

sthandwa sam

sikhule kunye

uphi?

Uphi Lungisa?

Mntase khaya

uphi, sana lika makhulu wam?

njani ndazi ukuba soze ndiphinde ndikubone geza lam

 

 

ndine bali

 

You, Mandisa

Seed birthed from death’s unyielding bosom

You know well the rejection from which you take flight

Fleeting dandelion,

You are curious to the point of intrusion,

Demassified, strangers carry you in their memories

Your childlike charm, like incense, unobtrusive and pungent, infiltrates

Unflinching; you dare life to the challenge of your existence

Learn, my dear, to let the grace of your silence overtake conversations

 

You, Mandisa

Lighthouse gleaming through the ocean’s spine

Fearfully you withhold, and indulge- perhaps too passionately

Without recompense continue to love- furiously

 

The canyons of your conch shell iron the makings of illusion

Is it not vanity to see splendor in all things banal?

You creep into the solace of solitude,

and there you come undone

 

Mandisa,

Your feet have seen the lavatories of kings

and you, ever with luggage in hand, bring the world of Adam to its knees

“You are my story,” bali lam