Dust to Dust


There are women left who have no rage in their wrists

As they slice greens or skin tomatoes towards mealtime.

Their husbands are at the beer-gardens with

Family money – what would amount to a bag of beans

Or soap bars.

There are women who keep both lips quietly touching,

Even as they gesture a fly from their brow, and

Swallow the mucus of a chilled afternoon.

They remember vaguely when love began

And the commonplace was not where they were going.

A woman is born knowing how it happens,

Her heart turning to dust as fine as cinnamon.

It has to do with disease, redder lips,

City restaurants, the cost of deodorant.

Indeed, it so happens that their men are condemned

To spend the rest of their lives staggering home

To fuck a corpse who smells of kitchen duty

And an unwillingness to preen for a wanderer.

These women wear long, brown dresses.

They rarely hurry across busy intersections,

They move as if, inside them, they carry a heavy mound.

Author: Tsitsi Jaji


Tsitsi Jaji was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She teaches literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Her chapbook Carnaval appears in the boxed-set Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol/African Poetry Book Fund). Her first scholarly book, Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music and Pan-African Solidarity (Oxford UP, 2014), traces Ghanaian, Senegalese, and South African responses to African American music in print and film.



Have you ever had a dream of a young child torn away from her mother and given away in marriage to a man old enough to be her great grandfather? Yeah, that was the kind of nightmare i woke up to at 2.00 am . Her screams echoes at every corner of my room,keeps me awake until dawn and gave me this burden in my heart to do something about it...I came up with the solution that if we could help this young child's mother to be self-reliant to be able to take care of her...even educate her, she will not end up in child marriage since her family will not need to borrow money from these Shylocks who want a pound of flesh of their offspring.Call me a dreamer...I won't stop until the nightmare is over. Wish me luck !

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