The H that stole your breath

by Zahraa’ Khaki

When I was a little girl
When I first tasted and savored
The drops of my name – fine wine on
My untried tongue
Trying feverishly to twine around
The elusive notes of Me
I learnt the meaning
Of Meaning

It built
From the tip of my tongue
Reaching down to the deepest
Part of my throat
Soaring down,
Then swooping outward from the empty space
Between my Voice
And the Air

I was Zahraa’
With the h that stole your breath
The h that you tried to steal
When I told you my name

Again and again
My four year old throat
While you lazily

My tired, nascent lungs
Filled over and over
With child-like fervor

And then I was a teenager
Tired and jaded
The h
That wrapped around your air

A minor mispronunciation
A silent condemnation
A sundering
Of a Name
A Self

But you pronounced a lot of things differently
I found

Falasteen you pronounced Israel
Child you pronounced Prisoner
Mother you pronounced Terrorist
Violence you pronounced Aid
Peace you pronounced I
Power you pronounced America
Beautiful you pronounced White

But no
I am Zahraa’
I am Zahraa’ Raadhiya
I am the flower of eternal pleasure
And She
is not yours

Their names
Hidden in the incapability of your tongue
They are not yours

They sing, joyously
In the fields of minds unhindered
By your world

We are not yours
We are not yours
We are not yours.

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Myesha Jenkins – Tribute

Botsotso would like to pay homage to Myesha Jenkins, the poet and promoter of poetry who died on Saturday, 05 September 2020. Myesha was a founder member of Feelah Sistah, the all-woman poetry group that in its time made such an impact. Thereafter, she was indefatigable in organising and strengthening poetry platforms on radio and for live performance/readings. Myesha’s work was included in two Botsotso productions – the anthology Isis X and the recording Roots and Branches. Her spirit as a politically conscious, jazz-loving artist lives on and is well expressed in her seminal poem Autobiography which was included in both these projects.

Click here to read Autobiography, a poem by Myesha Jenkins.

A Call for Submissions: Johannesburg in Poetry