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November 16, 2006
This poem was extracted from 'Nobody ever said AIDS: Stories
and poems' from Southern Africa
Compiled and Edited by Nobantu Rasebotsa, Meg Samuelson, Kylie Thomas
you seem puzzled,
You liken it to influenza,
Influenza was better,
It came and went.
You say, how
come, my daughter?
Not at all, my granny,
It is not like the great drought,
For the drought was and is no more.
What then is
it like, my daughter?
Is it like the smallpox, which took
Your grandfather in his youthful days?
Not at all, grandmother,
Smallpox is no more.
Listen old one,
this one is like a fire
That burns intently in the depth of hell,
Yes, burning slowly with its heat
Burning the cursed in its chambers.
It is like a
thorn that pricks continuously,
Piercing the flesh, and not regressing.
It is like the
Whose deathly strike
Paralyses the heart instantly.
Yes - old one,
it is called AIDS,
Look at your grandchildren,
Where are their mothers?
The mamba struck once
Leaving great sorrow behind it.
Tell the world,
That it is not at all like yesteryear
When the medicine man could rush to the rescue.
It is AIDS, grandmother.
Not like any of the other sicknesses,
Not at all.
*This poem was originally published in 2004. Nasabanji E. Phiri
was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 1980, and currently works for
the council in Lupane.
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