Poetry

Eyes Looking From Afar: Poems By Emmanuel Sigauke

EYES LOOKING FROM AFAR

Thoughts about what
twists the neck of history, chokes the throat culture,
and flogs the face of identity – this tugs attention’s ear
like collapsed bridges of Minnesota, making life shorter.

We just wanted to curve sense
out of the fury and the sound
of life in Mazvihwa, where no room existed
for us to burrow our ways to influence
or to dream that beyond the Gwavachemai and Gweshumba ranges,
Lady Life laughed in constant joy.

Now new thoughts on what thrusts
foundations of belonging, quaking our Quicksilver judgment
now scattered beyond the fringes
of the sacred stone shrine Zimbabwe
escaping and pursuing; often disagreeing
with observers’ comments and complaints
about our being the worst of the waste,
where we should exhibit our best like others,
the question we claw to seal the fissures
before the undesirable answers sediment. 

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ROCKS DANCING IN THE MOON

When I lift my arms
the hill lifts his, and mother says
I need to see a n’anga, perhaps I am a medium
awaiting the ripe day when an ancestor
will claim his throne.

This happens at night –
when the moon is grinning
when I am not at the village playground
nights of hide-and-seek, find-and-fix games;
those mother-and-I-only nights
when baba stays all night at the beer gathering.
Mother sits inside our hut, shelling nuts
and outside, in the embrace of moonlight,
I squint at the hill. The hill glares back
and near the entrance to a cave
two rocks, tall, stand
waving back at me, smiling at the moon.
I bend, get on my knees even
and they bend too, get on their knees even.
I lean to one side, they lean too, against each other
grinning still; pouting at me and at the moon.

So I laugh, and mother springs up, storms
outside to seal my mouth, but with the eyes open
I don’t want to stop laughing
as long as the rocks don’t stop sagging their stomaches
a dance for me
a lone boy bathing in the moon
whose water washes all:
hills and their rocks, mothers and their sons.

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CLEARING MY COFFEE-CORRODED THROAT ON ZIMBABWE’S HISTORY

I can talk about the war now;
your comrades thrashing old women in Mazvihwa –
scourge, they say, scourge of witchcraft
a new Salem not seeking freedom
tying to baobab branches
the ass-shaking reality
of life here.

I am young again –
asleep in Mai Pesi’s hut on stilts
from the solid night outside
sounds, sounds, sounds —
but these are the sounds
of your comrades plundering village daughters.

I am young still,
and the woman on her knees
chanting one ancestral name after another
begs for forgiveness
before the reverie
of witchcraft
scape-goated on her
each time a village pumpkin pukes:
tonight we are under her watch
as comrades thrash witches,
rape daughters
and wipe their blades
on dazzled sons of the village
who must watch, help, watch, help.

Now I am not a child
I am these words
escaping the torture
of a Gault coffe-grinding machine
where, like witches
the coffee-hungry guzzlers
struggle with dignity in line
and now, your comrades
they are the grounds
in a coffee-drained countryside
where now mothers and daughters
of the war, sing, in silence
about children who left
for a new kind of war.

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LOSS OR NO LOSS

It’s possible to lose
What you protect too much
There never is a guarantee
That what you protect is your protectorate.
Walk now –
Go out there
Breathe the fresh – perhaps not – air
Of this mute town.
But to reason on protectorates
Disrobing your roles now
Will not be the best way
To show that you reason.
You reason best when you stroke
Reality at the core – seek truth
Then like pervasive cicadas
Sing for the shock of a new day.
Embrace the shock
Dance with the shock
Cock the guns of your courage
And wake up, bruise the knee
In partnership, peruse, then read the day.
It’s possible to lose
What you don’t protect much
As there is guarantee
That what you don’t protect is your protectorate.

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JOINING THE CRUMBS

The taste of this life
Forbids pretenses for joy:
Yesterday she watched
Her daughter crumble
After the school expelled her.
She did go to school
Her ex-husband, the idiot,
Barely scraped middle school
But to watch her own daughter
Only thirteen, convert to the streets!

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Poems (c) Emmanuel Sigauke

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