Poem: THE RESILIENT TREE by Susan Kiguli

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The Resilient Tree

I cannot walk the ways of my mother and her mother before her
Not because I am not rock enough to endure
The numerous blows from the rough winds
With their urgent urge for control,
My mother my teacher showed me
That woman in this world is a river
A river that holds all manner of silt
And is expected to still flow with dignity and grace;
Expected to have pure water.

A woman, a black woman, is a tree
That will stand rain in all its shades
Will receive showers, storms and hurricanes
And still hold out the roots.
A tree that will look into the furious sun
And watch him gulp the little water
She painfully sucks up from the deepest waterbed.

This woman is a tree
That would change by seasons rather than die,
This woman is a tree that would bend
Under the weight of leaves
Rather than run away and die.

Grandmother, my mother's teacher taught her
That a woman, a black woman, is a fruit-bearing tree
That will nurture fruits to full bloom
And will watch man harvest the choicest of them
Will watch men bite and chew,
His teeth tearing roughly what she has tenderly sheltered.

That a woman is a resilient tree
That will watch her fruits drop
And rot on the ground then she will cover them 
With deliberate strength,
Nurturing other fruits season by season
This woman is a gigantic tree
Whose numerous branches
Are a comfortable shade for all kinds of birds
Free to twitter and sing
In the height of her branches.

That a woman, a black woman, is a bottlebrush
Whose attraction lies in her tears
Whose grace is her bending
Whose red flowers are source of strength
To all.


II

Now
I am making a journey
Climbing the hills descending the slopes
Resting in and outside the valleys of my soul.
I am finding out about myself
Seeking to know me
I am trudging this lonely path
Away from stately highways.

I have found my mouth
And listened to her talk
I am a slave of a foreign tongue
I speak about myself and my own
In a language of distant lands.
I am a treasonous traveller
A dumb among my own folks
This tongue betrays me
It has carved out an island for me
Yet I cannot this island home.
I am making a journey
Exploring the surface and depth of me
I dare to explore my mind
A place teeming with ideas
That demand expression
Sometimes my ideas speak aloud
But they are seldom heard
They are not tolerated
They threaten the self-appointed
Pillars of this world.
My ideas are called vainglorious
Because they dare to shake
Self-imposed foundations
My mind is on a battlefield
And Goliath cannot stop rambling
And growling that our traditions
Know the mind of a woman
That they define the mind of a woman.

I dare to commune with my soul
My soul of inspiration, my spring of love
I look deep into my soul
I find her sad and solemn
She yearns to play and yet not to be a plaything
She longs to fly and weave freedom in the clouds
She wearies of being pinned down
Of being named, caged and watched.
My soul wants to fly with her powerful wings
Out-stretched driven by the currents of the sky.

I have made a journey
I have communed with my soul
I am tired of old sun,
I am tires of standing in one place
I am breaking free.

— Susan Kiguli

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