Love was a verb and pain an adverb,
Our lives were a grammatical error…
A never-ending sentence.
The sun raises to find
My mother picked up
Broken pieces of herself
On dirty floors
From nights before,
Believing she is flawed.
I witnessed my mother
On fire to keep my father warm.
Every time my Father’s
Anger crushed into a few drinks at the bar
My Mother’s hands were first at the scene.
Blocking fists and slaps,
This dance was forced upon her
To perform each day.
But her hands,
Her hands were always warm.
As though they had not
Cleared a flood of tears from her cheeks
The night before.
When she stopped raising her hands in church.
That she had carved my father’s name on her palms,
And chose to worship them instead.
My Mother was no Saint.
So she fell in love with a monster
That showed her with flames.
Her hands were now burnt.
Her nails broken
From scrapping walls
As she mistook her wedding pictures
For strangers in her home.
My Mother’s hands
Forgot how to nurture
And memorised how to beg for forgiveness,
How to serve a boy, in a man’s cloth.
Her hands spoke fear fluently.
My Mother was one of those
Who held the knife by its edge.
Those who only left in a coffin.
It is the strongest ones, who always
Succumb to the weakest of things.
When my mother could not bring herself to pray,
When she stopped believing he would change,
We lost her,
For death is not the numbness of the flesh,
But the brokenness of a spirit.
When she had no strength to fight…
She stopped breathing on our kitchen floor.
For the first time in years
Her hands were not fighting.
At her funeral,
The scars on her hands were
The big elephant in the room,
Not the name on her palms.
Here lays a daughter raised by pain.
She sleeps with strangulation
Marks on her neck,
Brushes and blemishes
On her golden silky melanin”
I watched patiently as
They surrendered my Mother’s
Soul to a man who
Never showed up on her darkest hour.
Maybe he would be kinder.
We never poured soil on my Mother’s grave.
We Threw stones at her instead.
We never told her soul to rest in peace,
For we knew,
That like many other women who died in the hands of men
She will never stop fighting.
I’m still convincing my hands
To write a beautiful poem about my father.
Of How his hands were once gentle.
How he affectionately held
My Mother’s waist
While they both imitate
The smooth movement of trees
As the wind undresses them leaf by leaf…
But every time the pen meets with the paper.
They reminisce about my mother’s beauty,
Lament her pain.
And question her silence.
At how love was a verb,
Pain an adverb,
And Her entire life…
A grammatical error.
The devil walks amongst us.
He has no horns,
But a bottle in his hand
And no respect for men.
Kwanda Ntethelelo Mabaso, is a 21-year-old poet from Dundee KwaZulu-Natal. This poem acknowledges the victim by telling her story. She is not just a woman who died in the hands of a man, she is a Mother.