A fictional poem based on true facts from the lives of some in the Kaptembwa neighbourhood and Gabriel Learning Centre and Orphanage, Nakuru, Kenya. 

 

 

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Baby

Blow a kiss

To the smallest child

A ray of Hope

Pass her to adopting hands

Like a flame lights a candle

Never diminishes

 

Girl 

Brilliant, open hearted, mrembo (beautiful)

7

Unprepared

She enters school, bewildered

Bullied for her long legs and big feet

Her flip flops, one bit broken, repaired, broken, repaired

Mother, Father and classmate beat her on the back of the head

With a leather shoe

 

Teenager

Clever, direct, survivor

11

Abandons one school

 

Moves into another school, then out the house, to the street, to a new school

To be worth something to herself

To respect her own skin

Sometimes at the top of the class

Sometimes at the heel

 

Young Mother

Proper, regal, mud hut

20

Sings Hope into the braids of her three daughter’s hair

Sleeping baby on her lap

Young to divorce

Shines in the refuse

 

Older Mother

Searching, strong, stressed

26

Ask the Mother of seven, “Can you see beyond today?”

Abusive boyfriends pass like seeds in the wind

Lucky with 350 Shillings a week ($3.50), no chakulla (food)

Mother’s Hopes for 1 kg of flour on her table, water, electricity

Must offer her eldest to older men on the streets

50 shillings per shot

 

Baba (Grandmother) 

White black hair, light heavy face, open hearted bosom

Old for her years

During the peak of her wealth she is abundant in family, tradition and time

Once she wove late night stories into the mornings of her long short days

During gatherings of company, she treated people more important than food or wealth

Once her classic firm slow handshakes

Wore wrinkles into her fingers as rivers wear into the rocks
Watched the introduction of HIV, English colonialism and steel

Asphalt, telephone and street child,

Saw the birth of a Christian God

Still relies on her neighbours and family for

Health

Now must trade big Bobs, big money, for clear water
And she still believes in you

Has time for you

Smiles for you

Child

Survivor

And she always will

 

The Earth as Mother

Patient, wise, empty

The eldest child

1,000 black birds cross the East African sky

As she drinks cups of late night milky mountain mists

She still lives in the volcanic rocks of Menangai crater

She still flows out from her own hills

Bleeds into her own ocean

 

The womb of the sky rises to meet her

Upside down

This blue burnt bonanza of uncontrolled mystery is rewritten

 

A Traveller 

Giving, optimistic, bewildered

29

“How are you?” sing the children as she walks the slum’s dirt roads

Smiles

Teaching youth, she wears her mothers used trainers

Contemplating the ladder

Of the Ivory tower

 

Lillian Myers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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