Mother and Child

Taken from This Strange Land, this piece is one of many that highlights the bond between a mother and child, and perhaps too even life in Jamaica. Shara is another one of the poets whose works I enjoy because she reflects so much of the relationships between people as well as the land of her birth.
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Mother and Child

by Shara McCallum

Forgive the sun for shining that day,
light glinting off the mother’s nutmeg skin,
finding beauty in the most impossible places.

Forgive the child,dead in her arms,
for running into the path of a bullet
as if running after the tail of a kite.

Forgive the mother, sending him to the shop
for scallion and thyme, pressing coins
into his palm, promising sweets on return.

Forgive the ground for absorbing his blood,
for muffling footfalls of the one
who fired the gun and fled.

Forgive the mother’s mouth, the wail
lodged in her throat, the groveling eyes
asking too late for someone to intervene.

Forgive the silence of the onlookers,
crowding to see. Forgive even History,
indifferent to grief.

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A fan of Austin Kleon work (Show Your Work & Steal Like an Artist) because they always appear at the right time, with pertinent advice, I am daring myself to go one step further and share some poetry in this space that I have already chosen to use mostly for writing about fiction. Hopefully, you will forgive me if I have overstepped my bounds, but I believe, as writers, we should be open to tackling other types of writing. It is because of this that I am putting this out there to share with you.

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Truth be told, I fell into reading ghazal’s because I went to a writer’s conference (Bocas Lit Fest) which featured the work of Shara McCallum, a Jamaican born poet who lives in the U.S. At the event she read a few pieces from This Strange Land, including a ghazal. Besides this, I have also read poems by Agha Shahid Ali from his book of poems called, The Country Without a Post Office. He too has quite a few ghazals and both books are fascinating. (And for anyone who isn’t in the know: A ghazal in Middle Eastern and Indian literature and music is a lyric poem with a fixed number of verses and a repeated rhyme, typically on the theme of love, and normally set to music.)

 

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Anyway, I hope you enjoy the poem and as always, thanks for reading!

 

Ghazal

How do we arrive into the future?
Is duty our burden? Or is it honor?

O Father, every day you moan, belaboring my profession.
But how can I watch things, and not express doubt?

When Shahid wrote to the world:
Hope extinguished, now nothing else remains.

Our nation too is being torn asunder.
As unrest rolls in on the clouds.

Yet there is no great leader.
No one capable of filling those shoes.

So, every day I listen for the news.
Hoping a caucasus will create change.

Then they ask, “What does Melissa mean?”
Honey bee, I say, in Greek.