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by Belinda Munyeza

My grandmother
cooks sadza
with her whole body;
It’s a sacred dance when she churns
the sea of thick white paste that
reeks of my identity when it burns.

“They say keep a chameleon in
mealie meal overnight—”
I take note of this ritual
I am still yet to learn
“and use the meal for porridge
in the morning to cure asthma,”
Gogo says and we erupt
into fits of laughter.

When she brushes the wooden stick
against the black lips of the pot,
I lay out the plates and bring out
the dish and jug
for washing.

While I do so,
I think more seriously to myself:

Black magic is only so
because it feeds on your soul—
your desperation,
starves you of your sense
and leaves you
hungry
for a savior.

My grandfather’s hands
are jagged, scarred mountains
with textured crevices;
their geology is evidence
of his labor.
I pour and watch
the water
river its way
over them,
anticipating the moment
the African man in him complains
that “it is too hot!”

Vernacular rolls off our tongues
and laughter has no gravity;
this house is where joy comes to breathe.

When the night buries the day
and the children go to sleep,
we trade repeated, eternal goodbyes
and morsels of gossip
for the ride.

And now, the drive
back home is silent.

And I try to ignore
the thinning air
in my lungs.

Belinda Munyeza is an emerging Zimbabwean poet, currently working on her first poetry manuscript. Her poem “Independence Song” was featured on VS the podcast in May of 2020. She tweets @MdnightIsAplace.

 

Photography by: Tikkho Maciel