Seasoned Greetings

 

 

After the Door of No Return, a map was only a set of impossibilities, a set of changing locations…a forgotten list of irretrievable selves

                      Dionne Brand

 

 

i am a well-seasoned auntie / that’s what she said / refuting my claim to be dry / and I liked her for that

and it’s new year’s eve / and this auntie has seasoned messages to send (she thinks) /

to those she knows and loves / to those who / if she knew them / she might love too

 

tennineeight / she needs to share something / auntie words / with flavours of hope

inspiration / uplift / shift / change

Every year about this time / this is top of the agenda / the main menu

every year about this time / words fail her

 

Sevensixfive / hurry hurry / gobble the day

because it is the last day / because tomorrow is thinner, fitter, faster, more focused,

it has a bull’s eye / a rifle sight / a starting gun / a countdown

sevensixfive

get ready for a new day / for a whole new year / a whole new you

 

but it’s a no / from the irretrievable selves / who are not new

who bristle (the whole list of them) / poke holes in all auntie’s best wishes / good intentions

why the mad dash into tomorrow? / why the insistence on a self freshly made?

why so keen to leave today’s self so thoroughly behind / exiled / abandoned?

who exactly are you running from? / what exactly did we do / to deserve this?

 

Four, three / wait.

don’t count out / the irretrievable selves / who refuse to be relegated

to the past / to last year / to last place

decline to be suffocated / by new me’s / new ideas 

new year resolutions

 

I / she / you / we / well seasoned aunties

not up for / not down with

fresh herbs / new regimes / new spiritual practices

no need for / new bodies / new minds

no targets to set / no projects to find

hold the new shoots / keep the new boots / we are old roots

 

we are not about dashing ourselves / out / like overnight food / not yet consumed

we are well seasoned aunties / a set of changing locations / impossibilities 

tell us / tomorrow will come / three-two-one

tell us / next year 

we will taste / just as good / as now / possibly / even better

 

How the Land Lies

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There is grit in the air,

fragments of torture

injustice

via newsfeed, live feeds

daily grit

yesterday and today

everyday

we navigate a grit storm

and try to save ourselves

 

my friend finds pictures

in inconvenient places

stops suddenly

on roads and street corners

Has me wait

While he makes a frame

for this discarded stain,

that broken brick

Grit has become a way of life

 

Brexit. My friend will have an Irish passport

and I will not

Still I am lucky. I have two passports

one that gets me in to Ireland

to my friends’ foremothers’ endz

where the earth smells good.

and the water never fails

earth water running brown, down hills, under my feet

clear sky water lashing, rinsing me through

lakes and oceans in which I will not swim no matter who says what a fine day it is

and there is grit of course

always grit

 

Africa.

my friend makes us the picture

our family walking on sand

baobab trees in the frame

and a fishing boat

and the seven of us

unaware of the lens

with our backs to the sun

and to the grit we hope

our eyes forward

the I and I

wrapped in our beloved Mamaland

 

You think you might

in the right circumstances

with a favourable current, a tailwind,

escape

outrun this gritty system

except Babylon is a photo bomb

a where’s Wally on a page

always somewhere in the frame

we the navigators

seeing how the land lies

its sunsets, shadows, deadly edges

we take up tools

dig for the maps drawn under our skin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Act

The love of my life left. My friends said I was better off without him

‘Bad news’

‘Bad mind’

‘Bad breath’

Bad.

I comforted myself with hand made chocolate and Chilean wine and later, with less expensive chocolate and coffee. Later still, ginger beer and M & Ms. Comfort spat me out. My friends said time doesn’t stand still

‘Get over it’

‘Get over him’

‘Get over yourself’

Get.

The love of my life called me.

‘Hi baby’, he said

‘You up?’

And my friends humphed that people don’t change

‘Don’t be fooled’

‘Don’t get weak’

‘Don’t make it easy’

Don’t.

So I didn’t.

‘I ain’t no fool’ I said

‘And I ain’t easy’

‘And no baby, I’m not up’

Not.

The love of my life stopped calling. Maybe he believed me when I said I wasn’t up. Maybe he didn’t care that I was down? And full up and fat

Weighed down with M & Ms and loneliness and shame.

‘Check out the gym’ said the friends,

‘Check out this book’

‘Check out these shoes’

“Check”

They didn’t know that when the love of my life left, he took all my checks. Checked out.

The love of my life came around, snuck up to my door in the middle of the night and the door was easy on its hinges and let him in. Without a squeak.

We mapped each others contours, revisiting familiar haunts, encoutering new cell growth and fresh scars.

I cried on his shoulder, ugly mucus-coated funeral crying

Then I threw up a rainbow on his new jeans

‘Shit! What the_?’

‘Shit babe! what you been eating?’

‘Shit! Look at my clothes’

‘Nasty shit!’

Shit!

I quit M &Ms and changed the locks on love

I listened to his messages on the answer machine in the middle of the night

Three times, then twice, then once

And then I erased them

And didn’t listen

My friends said

‘Did he call?’

‘Do you miss him?’

‘Do you think you’ll go there again?’

Do?

I don’t.

The love of my life left.

While it was away it expired