Once in a while you come across writing that touches your soul. It’s rare and precious and so cries to be shared. So here I am, sharing it with the one and half people who read this space.
Shailja Patel is a Kenyan poet (a performance poet, her bio informs us) I stumbled upon in one of my frequent blog-hopping jaunts. Her one-woman performance of ‘Migritude’ in the US has got some rave reviews.
'Schilling Love', her ode to her parents in a humbling telling of an immigrant experience is honest and searingly intense.
They never said / they loved us
Those words were not / in any language / spoken by my parents
I love you honey was the dribbled caramel / of Hollywood movies / Dallas / Dynasty / where hot water gushed / at the touch of gleaming taps / electricity surged / 24 hours a day / through skyscrapers banquets obscene as the Pentagon / were mere backdrops / where emotions had no consequences words / cost nothing meant nothing would never / have to be redeemed
My parents / didn't speak / that / language
And then again,
Something / is bursting the walls of my arteries something / is pounding its way up my throat like a volcano / rising / finally / I understand / why I'm a poet
Because I was born to a law / that states / before you claim a word you steep it / in terror and shit / in hope and joy and grief / in labour endurance vision costed out / in decades of your life / you have to sweat and curse it / pray and keen it / crawl and bleed it / with the very marrow / of your bones / you have to earn / its / meaning