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Tea-break thoughts
Emmanuel Sigauke
Extracted from African Writing online, Issue Two
October/November 2007

Here is a woman who is going to be my mother
once this hell extinguishes
and the rains whisper in the Gwenyaya plains.

Harare is not Harare yet;
we are in the sixties
and Chimurenga II has not begun
so Harare is still Salisbury, reporting to the Queen.

Mother - she is in Mufakose, forced wife of the Malawian,
who is also husband to her aunt, her father's sister,
who, because of menopause, whispers to her brother
and the girl who will be my mother
is put on the first bus to Harare;
remember, Harare is not yet Harare
so the war of independence begins
once Rhodesia plagiarizes Thomas Jefferson, pissing off England,
and no one knows yet when the country will be free
from the rape of the Declared Smiths.

In Mufakose the woman to be my mother heaves forth a girl
and the Malawian husband smiles, smiles all the way
because his money has borne fruit
the money he toiled for at his "Yes Master job" in the suburbs
where he does not live
which is why my sister is born in Mufakose,
but no one knows about me yet
in the mid-sixties, when Chimurenga is now ignited
by the independence of other countries north of us.

She doesn't last with the Malawian,
the woman soon to be my mother,
whose aunt cannot bear the challenge of youth anymore
the woman to be my mother must leave
that's the only way she will be my mother
that's the only way I can have a mother
that's the only way my father
will plant a legacy and die --
my mother, who is not yet, leaves
gets on the same bus back to Gwenyaya
and winds in the skies clap hands and whisper
and the war has invaded every corner of the country
the settler is diahorric, and the winds ululate
children of the war are born
I will be born as a child of the war.

The woman meant to be my mother
is my mother now; I who scream in mbuya's arms,
as mother coils in pain, holding groin ---
they say she never recovered; the war arrived,
burned the land, wrought change,threatened us with independence,
but mother never lived to see all this;
they say she raced to join the man
who had planted a legacy, three years
after mother left the Malawian
to be my mother; in the backdrop
of the war, the war that exhausted many a dream
gave birth to new ones, found me already born,
soccer-kicking in school, toitoing at Gwavachemai;
teenager - crunching knowledge, not fishing into my past
fatherless, but fathered, motherless, still mothered
free from war, but memories mired in war
enjoying the rotten fruits of independence
but, motherless-fatherless, sliding down toward
the chaos of independence, warless battles never won
an accusing finger pointing to the sixties
wondering, was I born in war for a reason
to move beyond every kind of season?

Here is a woman, now a-wing in Post-War's Memory
who went away, bore and left to bear again
so when they say we are here, he too shall say
we are here, and will live to remember
this woman who dared to become my mother.

*Sigauke was born in Zimbabwe, where he started writing at the age of thirteen. He teaches English at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, where he is an editor of the Cosumnes River Journal. He has published poetry in journals and magazines in Zimbabwe, Ireland and the United States. His recent publications have appeared in Virtual Poet, Slow Trains Journal, Ibhuku, and

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