Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Temberkeke (September Flowers)

Recently I've dabbled with using words from my native language in my poetry. I'm Ethiopian though my first language is English. In September Flowers amongst the many themes and symbols I explored for the first time I thought of dissecting my cultural background. Language is a good place to start the way words are used and even the way they sound. Amharic is a beautiful, rich language; the way it echoes in the mouth, syllables tremble from tongue to lips, ring in perfect pitch. One day I will write poetry in Amharic but for now I'm taking baby steps and trickling words with the language that comes naturally to me (diaspora blues.)
In Ethiopia we have many tribes thus 80+ languages spoken in the country. I come from two different tribes Tigray and Amhara, though I only speak my father's language (from the Amhara tribe) Amharic. In this poem the word 'temberkeke' is repeated which is the female conjugation telling her to kneel. ~


Work hard now
Then, you can reap what you sow
What you sow is not all about you
She’s animated
Strong in her speech
doesn’t hold back so
I developed thick skin
my mother prepared me for life by intimidating me of it
In becoming a woman
she taught me
I am responsible for anything that happens to me
Show humility
Know when you are wrong.
Don’t make the same mistake twice
Always be worthy
I fought regularly with my father
And when his ego grew too big
He became
Too angry to feel what I was feeling
My mother was his wife
So She had to teach me a lesson;
She listened so well and intently
Understandingly, afterwards
She told me to step back
Because he couldn’t handle the truth
Beg him for forgiveness
Show him you are worthy
That was the first time I remember feeling broken
Cover your chest
It’s cold out there
Cross your legs
Don’t wear black
Tie your hair back
Only use eyeliner after 21
Sometimes I wonder
All the things she’s seen
And hasn’t told me
I wonder
if she’s convinced herself of piece of mind
As a humble housewife
I couldn’t tell if she was complicated or conflicted
When consumed in her bitterness
She showed fire
told me I was to be different
I was named after the horizon
She said to
Manifest ideas and
Fly up against the sun
then in the feat for ultimate power
She took me to church,
Kiss these sacred walls, the floors
Go on your knees
beg for forgiveness
Beg him to give you a good life.
I couldn’t understand
How power could be surrendered like that
I left home with one suitcase and the burden of expectation
Knowing what it took to get me overseas;
Were all the things my mother never had
I think,
She’s afraid I may never come back.
She tells me I defy too much
I question, only because i’ve seen so much
I’m conflicted
We have such big barriers that
My redemption is foreign to her
The opportunity to live out my dreams
Is a privilege
Always be worthy
Don’t make the same mistake twice

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