International School of Kenya
December’s wet afternoon beats blindly onto golden rapier grass
as the wind blows gently into my grandmother’s wrapper
which inflates like a summer balloon: gentle air filling up on all sides
lifting slowly , begging to take flight if this were another day
she would acknowledge it that same wind that taught her to pick the best corn
to smile at the prettiest birds
now she furrows her lips as she turns the millet onto its sides
feet making patterns in new-born seed
stalks tossed in round, warm, light headscarf falls beyond neck
to hide beads of sweat from wandering eyes supple breasts bounce gently in
tandem with the beat of work-dance: the step of breath and the rhythm of feet
a secret drumbeat forms,this: her military reaping and surely nothing can evade
a woman of the sun not worms that slither in- between the branches or
cats that stalk in sultry silence. waiting for meal or help or hand
a single mayfly lands on the yellow-clothed back: ignored she works in silence, this
her praise and worship she is turning, turning, the day away stopping for
nothing in the religion of the heat the shuffle,of the feet the taming ,of the
that she has worked for decades bows down in quiet submission the birds
in song joyous...
Every time I start to think that a poem needs to be sweeping and profound in order to be well-written, I stumble across a poem like this one, where the beauty lies in its simplicity. This one paints a vivid image of the speaker’s grandmother and her “work-dance.” How it focuses on just the grandmother, and the wheat, and the “secret rum beat” that forms from her movements. It is breathtaking to experience this quiet moment with the speaker, and watch as the land “bows down in quiet submission” to the grandmother’s work-weathered hands.
Awuor Onguru is from Nairobi, Kenya, where she is also a rising Senior year (Class of 2020) at the International School of Kenya. Awuor enjoys viewing her work most through her mother’s WhatsApp broadcasts. Her favorite pastimes include writing, cooking and thinking about cooking. You can visit her at awuorez.wordpress.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR