Millicent Yedwa (Zimbabwe)
Millicent Yedwa was born in the small mining town of Bindura in 1994.
Her childhood years were spent in another small mining town called Mvuma. Shaped by small and intimate spaces her work aims to produce the same effect. She seeks to create an intimate distance between her work and its readers. She holds a B.A Hons in English from the University of Zimbabwe (2017). Her work is interested in the nuances of displacement, what it does to the mind of those who go and to those who stay, the destabilization of the relations as a result of movement. She is also interested in investigating through her poetry the nature of a country that would trigger such an exodus. Her work centers on these themes but is not limited to them. She is currently in the process of compiling her first collection of poetry
REVISITING THE BODY
Where l come from, a certain woman’s story has grown into legend
A woman, who threw bones in the midst of flaring bullets.
It is said she saw into bones
That she was part spirit
That she was directed by the ground
Caught bullets with her vocal chords
It is said, before a war mighty men thronged her shrine for
interpretations of the soil.
That her voice was shield.
Nehanda, the bones woman,
When she appears in my history book
Has a cloth to cover her body
Her body, seeming to swerve, slowly with the wind
Hanging on a tree.
That was my introduction to a female body
Caught by a pursuing armed battalion
Closing the nose against the strong stench of death
“my bones will rise”
Female body, dancing in surrender
To the music of death
What else is the body besides dying?
Besides slow movements on a rope dangling off a tree?
The day my Uncle almost hit my grandmother with a rusty steel bar,
was also the day he became a man.
Was the day grandmother grew safest from him.
Silence attacked the room quicker than the speed of light,
steel bar in air,
grandfather in motion,
faster than light,
catching the bar before the abominable thing,
The good kind, under the circumstances.
a non relatives blood was the kind to be feared.
Had the steel bar touched grandmother’s skin
It is said her spirit would rise
Brandishing a sweeping vengeance & amnesia.
Forgetting her own chromosomes
-To wipe out everything
blood in it
As hungry for blood
As fucking angry spirit
What else is this body when not an abode for the celestial?
When it is not Nehanda
Not dangling on a tree
When its bones will not rise
Is it anything at all?
I propose that we become the murderers for a minute
To be the men and women who torched the house
With a 2month old baby and its parents in it.
As a way of claiming their country
I want us to hold both blade and baby
To slit its throat and gut
Not giving a rat’s ass about how the blood ruins our clothes
Or runs to flat-fuck
sit on our faces like that
Come ‘on! Dare we be the blade
Silver and fatal
Be the blade holders. All of them. Arsonists too
we be their anger
We roaring like a cyclone
Ripping at our bones
Choking at our throats
Refusing to let us go
Until we require a sacrifice of blood and fire
Tender braai-ed child skin,
Small pieces of clothes,
That fall away with child skin
Mark their Unright to this land by violent entry and smoke
I propose, we imagine that night’s sleep
The shape of bestiality that begs to be called by a kinder name
To understand the architecture of our complicity
The violence in our silence
When a body is set on fire
It refuses to stand in one place.
A fleeing chimney of flames and smoke.
But the baby moves only with its cry
Writhing in one place.
Voice a shrapnel shot out of sanctum.
The last of these flames will find this child’s bones still here
a cuss letter to motion,
For this smouldering failure.
Xenophobia is fear of the other; Afrophobia is fear of a specific
other – the black other….”
Dr. Rotheney Tshaka
This is before your chest grew this mountainous
When your terrain was much much simpler than now
Simpler of course than everything else around us
You and i are sitting at the edge of the road
that goes to mam’ ruby’s tavern
We watch with deep longing as armed men
rush into the mouth of the white man
And come out
As clean as snow
With no sins
With tongues that bow
And eyes that courtesy.
Their smiles threatening to break their faces into disproportionate halves.
We are so young then but we swallow hard in envy
Of the things in the white man’s mouth that these men all rush towards
That makes these men smile
Make them throw away machetes
And say only nice things like “yes boss”
Or “ha-ha you are so funny, Mike” all the time
Mike is not stealing things from them
Never stealing things
Things like jobs
Mike makes these things
So Mike never gets the baptism of fire and blades
Just sparkling white teeth
That only yesterday night
Were sharp knives
Or whatever else you know that is fiercer
We died under those eyes’ grilling fire
We are a smouldering people,
Both here and at home
Mike waves and gets into his car
that none of these men is ever going to own
in their lifetimes
But they are okay with it.
What makes them lose sleep is people like brother John
Brother John from my country, which is next door to this one
Brother John with the Tavern and the two roomed house
That he is renting
He was taking their money
Milking their country dry
The whole country was going to be sucked to death by brother John
Had they not _beat_ him to it.
To a pulp,
To another dimension
Leaving his body lying headless in his yard
It was bra’ John
The mess of a man
And we watched you and I