22 October 2010

Sarah Mkhonza's "Woman in a Tree"

In this collection of poems, Sarah Mkhonza retraces her escape from Swaziland to the United States, where the images that haunt her also set her free.

"Woman in a Tree" reflects some of Sarah Mkhonza's experiences inside and outside her home in Swaziland. This important volume of poetry is filled with sadness, laughter, and the bitter taste of exile as Mkhonza reveals her concern for local clan customs and reacts to the violence against women and the subverted democracy in the hands of the ruling class. She is telling us her story with 'red ochre spread on every leaf.'
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THE SUNDAY EMERGENCY

On a bloody Sunday journey
At the emergency room of a hospital
In a town called Manzini
In a country called Swaziland
The weekend plays soccer
On the bodies of women.
The suffering kills me inside.
Seen everywhere, it invades me—
Women limping, hips dislocated,
Heads bandaged,
My niece with no eye, but a marble in the socket,
My niece dead, nothing but a memory.
When does it end, this beating of women?

Answer me! My anxiety fails me,
For I am lunar, I will go mad
And run away in the night, crying murder all over.
Somebody is mad and not me;
Somebody inside me sees.
I just speak for all,
I do.
© Sarah Mkhonza


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7 comments:

Michelle said...

Powerful words.

Kay said...

Very powerful and clear. Compelling stuff.

Rethabile said...

Michelle, Kay,
I discovered Sarah, like, last week. Where have all these poets been?

paisley said...

you knew that one would cut me to the quick... even your ghost has the uncanny ability to procure just the right words to begin my day......

Rethabile said...

I knew this was kinda you, yes. But know that it cut me up bad, too.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

A haunting piece written to haunt the perpetrators. As much as it is beautiful I do not want people to go through this.

Good use of imagery. Excellent rather. Marbles in eye sockets; the weekend playing soccer with women etc.

A pithy piece, yet no less powerful.

Rethabile said...

Thank you, for Sarah. I discovered her writing recently but have unfortunately not been able to get my hands on more.