It does not cease to be beautiful in its own absence

It does not cease to be beautiful in its own absence

I will not discount the time passed.

The days have been quiet;

The months have felt bare.

When it was needed, it was there.

I will not colour it empty

Nor will I taint it with untruth.

It was a beautiful thing

While it was in its youth.

If it is gone now,

It will still be beautiful.

It does not cease

To be beautiful in its own absence.

But its scent grows light.

Its strength becomes slight.

Harder to keep it going

When it’s no longer in sight.

But beautiful it will always be.

Its shades of truth, I will always see.

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A Strong Woman

Hi there. Hello.

Just yesterday I peeked over in my Poetry folder on my laptop and I realised that I had no poems to show for 2015. Gasp! This year, so far, has been odd. I feel like I’ve been on pause since the December holidays. I haven’t yet figured out how to press play. And that is reflected by being over 4 months into the year with no great emotion to show for it. (Great emotion = Poetry).

How boring, right? An emotion-less 4 months, stuck on pause.

So just a couple of hours ago, without me having asked for it (I promise I didn’t ask for it) some emotion came to smack me in the face. And so I have a poem. Yay. I think. Or not yay. Nay.

So here’s my first blog post for 2015 (and in over a year). And my first poem for 2015.

Strong Woman

by Ruqaiyah Davids

Yeah, I want a man I can love.

But I also want a man who will love me:

I want a man who will love my strength,

Even while he accepts my weaknesses.

I want a man who loves that I have an opinion,

And yet never feels threatened in his dominion.

I want a man who loves my sarcasm and wit,

Because, honestly, without it, I’d too easily submit—

And I’d really just be a counterfeit.

The thought of it makes me too sick to admit.

I want a man who loves that I use correct grammar.

Yes, I’m that nerd who texts with correct spelling.

And punctuation.

And I capitalise proper nouns.

But let me just announce:

Correct language use is by no means an obligation.

The absence of it, a mild irritation, yes.

But a well-spoken woman should not call for arbitration.

I want a man who sees that I am strong.

You had me doubting whether it belonged—

Does a woman’s strength put a man under threat?

No. You were wrong.

A strong woman still knows how to duet.

P.S. This poem is sort of a sequel to another poem I wrote quite a while back: A Man I Can Love. A continuation of the conversation, you could say. See below.

A Man I Can Love

by Ruqaiyah Davids

I want a man I can love.

A man whose love for me

Was decreed by our Lord above.

I want a man I can trust,

A man who I’ll want to respect and honour,

Not because I ‘must’,

Or because obedience to him

Was upon me thrust,

But because he respects me

And honours me,

And deals with people in a way that is just.

And because, above all that,

He respects and honours the Words of our Master,

And this will make my heart beat a little faster.

I want a man I can learn with,

Someone to hold hands with.

Let the man

To whom I’ll give my hand

Be a man I can laugh with.

I want the little things,

And from this,

Love begins.

And with it,

Rahma and Mawaddah

From our Lord it brings.

I want a man who will lead me,

A man who will accept me.

One who will guide me,

Protect me,

And lovingly correct me.

I want a man who makes mistakes sometimes

And is willing to take some time

To admit when he is wrong.

One who doesn’t always try to be strong

All on his own,

But allows me to come along,

Stand by his side,

And be his partner,

Lifelong.

He should be a man with a beard—

Now wait,

I know you might think that’s a little weird,

But, even though I want a man who will love me,

I want him to love our Prophet

SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam

More than he does me.

I want that love to show on him,

In the way that he dresses,

And the way that he moves.

The way that he loves me,

And the choices he may choose.

It should be the means by which

Our life together improves.

I want a man I can grow with,

Someone I can sow with

The seeds of our trees

In the Gardens of Jannah.

I want to fall in love.

Just once,

Just him.

Forever and ever.

Amin.

______________________________________

Are you a strong woman? Do you know a strong woman? Share your thoughts with me below.

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Bowing Out

I made it five days into the glorious month of poetry before bowing out (gracefully?). Well, that’s not entirely true — I have still been writing this past week and I have a few poems to show for it, but none that I want to share right now.

NaPoWriMo is just not happening for me this year. Pieces of my mind are scattered in so many different places that I can’t quite gather them together long enough to compose something I like enough. And trust me, if I don’t like it enough, you’re sure not going to. Perhaps after some revision to those poems I’ll share them with you at a later time. I’ll still keep writing for the rest of the month, naturally. Will try to keep up with each day as much as I can, but what I really want to do is focus on more extended pieces of writing for now. So we’ll see where that goes. But besides that, what I even more really want to do (I know that isn’t right, but it just sounds so much more fun — why can’t we have fun with words?) and what I am doing a lot of right now, is concentrating a lot more on developing good writing in my students. And that takes a lot of time and energy. More than you’d think. So that also takes away from time given to my own writing. But I love it so much! And don’t worry, I won’t teach my students to write incorrect sentences like my one above — but I will teach them to experiment and have fun with the language and perhaps come up with their own funny ways of saying things that are otherwise just boring.

As a final salute to NaPoWriMo from me for this year, I’ll share one of the poems I wrote this past week — just to not leave you with nothing.

It was supposed to be a love poem to an inanimate thing. And this is sort of a love poem… though not quite.

2012-08-13-car-quotes

To My First Car

I never liked you much.

In fact, I could hardly stand you.

And it was no secret too.

You were unwanted and unloved—

A harsh, cold, ugly truth,

Just like your harsh, cold, ugly exterior.

 

But you were needed.

I needed you like you needed a good paint job—

Without you my life would not have been the same.

Without you, I would have been stuck,

And alone.

You gave me freedom;

A temporary escape on the journey between two worlds.

You gave me reflection and introspection.

 

You weren’t very well-liked by my friends or my family.

And I’m not sure if you know this,

But they often made fun of you.

My sister hated you—

She always complained

When having to climb into your hard, unwelcoming backseat,

Which was a mighty task considering you only had two doors.

But I wonder how she would have got around without you…

Or how I would have.

 

I would always defend you when they’d mock you.

Because even though you were loud and rough,

And dusty and dented,

And peeling and painful to look at—

You were mine.

You were my first.

You came to me at a time in my life that I did not want you,

But I needed you.

And that counts for so much more.

______________________________

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The Golden Shovel

Hi there! Today’s poem is an interesting one. It’s called a “golden shovel” apparently, which is where you take an already existing poem and you use each word in that poem as a last word for each line in your own new poem. Sound confusing? Just wait, it’ll make sense in a minute.

 

This is the already-existing poem I used:

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends–

It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

So look at each word in this poem above and then look at the last word in each line of my poem below. See it? It’s the whole of First Fig right there. Pretty cool, but was pretty tricky too.

Enjoy.

 

Oh, The Light!

As I began this journey of my heart – and to my

Heart – I felt warmed with happiness as I became swarmed by the light of this candle.

It illuminates my path and my past; the want for more burns.

I stand looking down the way ahead, and looking back, and at

Once, I want to go both

Forward and back. The questioning never ends.

To go forward would be wise, to go back would be dangerous, yet it

Plagues me so, the wonder of what lies there. Will

It ever be enough? I wonder and I wonder, not

Living now but impossible to live then, too. It’s been long since I last

Knew where the road was headed; long since I journeyed on my own. But now the

Enlightened trail is darkened. The sure way is shrouded by night.

There lingers still a faint light. A glimmer. It is dark still but

There is light! Ah,

There is always light. Sometimes only a spark, sometimes only a flicker, but sometimes a fire. My

Path has not yet ended. I will travel on with friends and I will travel on with foes;

Both will help me to my ultimate end. There is purpose to it all. And

There is light. There is still light. Oh,

There is light! It is small, it is shy. It is not yet strong or bold enough to show itself proudly. My

Thoughts linger; they sit for a while and breathe in the smell of old friends.

They take time looking around. Much too familiar, and yet much too strange. It

Is still there – the path. Waiting for me. It gives

A fair chance. But too much longer and the light might dim. Too much longer and a

Wind might change the course. But for now it remains. And how lovely

It is know and to feel the light.

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Let the Children Play

This is something very important to me, though it’s not something I would have thought to write about in this form. It kind of just found its way out of my head and onto my laptop screen while thinking of what to write about in today’s poetry prompt by the folks over at NaPoWriMo. This style is called a lune, which is like a haiku, except that instead of counting the syllables in a line, you count the words. And instead of 5-7-5 (as in a haiku), it’s 3-5-3, i.e.. first line of the stanza has 3 lines, second has 5 lines, third has 3 lines.

So the reason this topic is very important to me is because all too often I see adults around me telling children to be quiet or to not be “so loud” when all they’re doing is playing — loudly. Adults get upset when toys get smashed loudly to the floor or into each other in a fight between the army man and a car (odd fight to have, I know, but hey, it happens). And naturally, there are sound effects that go with that epic fight. But the children are told not to make so much noise; “play quietly”. This upsets me. Deeply. Let the children make a noise! Let the children hum and sing loudly, or mutter nonsense to themselves if they want to! Let them play! For goodness sake! No, literally… for goodness sake. I mean, when children have the freedom to play and have fun and make a noise — and let’s be honest, they all go hand-in-hand, because how much of fun can you have quietly in a corner by yourself, and how much can you play without some sound effects and shrieks of laughter? — they grow into whole people, confident people, positive people, intelligent people, kind people. And isn’t that just good for everyone?

So, let the children play.

Source: http://passionatelycuriousinkindergarten.blogspot.com/2014/01/report-cards-love-stories-about-learning.html
Source: http://tinyurl.com/q9ec5ce

Let the Children Play

We tell them

They’re naughty when they’re noisy.

Ain’t that crazy?

 

Children are meant

To be noisy and dirty;

It’s their journey.

 

We shouldn’t stop

Them from shouting in play;

They’re young today.

 

Before long though,

Our rules and reprimands will

Make them still.

 

Children will be

Too scared to have fun—

Damage we’ve done.

 

They won’t be

Young for much longer, sadly.

This is reality.

 

When they’re grown,

They’ll be shells because we

Didn’t let’em be.

 

I cheated a bit on that last line there. I know “let’em” isn’t the conventional way of shortening “them”, but I would have had one word more than I should. So I whipped out that ol’ poetic licence I have stuffed in my wallet and used it.

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Tick Tock

This one isn’t quite finished yet. I’ve been sitting with it since yesterday (which is why I didn’t post anything yesterday), because it wasn’t ‘right‘ yet. I don’t yet know what will finish it or how to finish it, but I’ve decided that that’s okay. I’ll share it with you anyway. This is what it is for now.

Time

The second hand of an ancient clock;

Listen closely for the far-away knock.

It kills, it steals, and it heals;

The future is what time reveals.

Forever caught in time’s wicked trap;

It is somewhere in the middle that the stream and the storm overlap.
Tick, tick, tock.

Tick, tick, tock.

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A Delayed Day Two

It’s day 4 of April, yes, but this was the poem I wrote for Day 2 of NaPoWriMo but just haven’t posted until now.

Quotes-Own Wings quote wallpaper

Wings

In the tower of tenderness the wings unfold,

Slowly,

Gently.

Until they’re sure and strong.

They unravel and spread their beauty.

Boldly.

Courageously.

The wind carries them,

To parts unknown.

They travel with faith and with hope.

They soar and glide;

There is no end to what they may find.

They will reach the ends of the earth

With faith and with hope.

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It’s April!

And you know what that means, right?

Time for me to come out of hiatus! Why? Because it’s National Poetry Writing Month!

Yes, I know it’s pretty despicable that I’ve last updated pretty much a year ago (I don’t really suppose that my one lone post last October counts for much). But… uhm… Okay, I have no acceptable excuses. I’m all out. I’m just really terrible at time management. Like, really terrible. And way too easily distracted. Like, while typing this post right now, do you have any idea how many times I’ve navigated away from this window? To Google something that has just popped into my head that I’ve meant to Google for a while now; to talk to my mom; to reply to an e-mail; to drink some water… I’m terrible.

But anyhoo, here’s a poem that will hopefully make you forget all about that! Yay.

Write it out!
Write it out!

NaPoWriMo Day 1: The Kind of Lives We’re Living

What kind of lives are we living?

Weren’t we meant for more?

Our innocence and youth has just gone through the door.

Nothing left for us to fight for anymore.

 

You had big dreams

Of simple things.

Not important any longer, it seems.

 

I had visions of happiness;

I saw days of what-seemed-like-bliss.

I never thought it would be like this.

 

We were meant for more,

We were meant to be better.

You were meant for greatness

And happiness.

We are meant to have goodness.

 

What kind of lives are we living?

Stuck in the past.

 

It was not meant to be like this.

It was not meant to be like this.

 

We’ve got to stop wishing.

And missing.

We’ve got to start living.

And giving

From the deepest parts of ourselves.

Stop grieving for a life lost,

One that was never meant for us.

 

The kind of life we should be living

Is still waiting.

 

To be honest, I’m not all too fond of this poem. I don’t hate it, I just feel that it needs (quite a bit of) tweaking. I suppose I’ll get back to that some time, but in the quest of writing a poem a day, I wanted to get this up for Day 1. Day 2 will be up shortly. Yes, yes, I know it’s the 2nd of April already! Hush!

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A New Place to Call Home

My family and I have recently moved into a new neighbourhood. In this neighbourhood, we have a new place that we now call ‘Home’. I’ve only ever known one other Home in my life; that Home, I had known for over 25 years–more, if you count the time that I was moving and shifting around in my momma’s belly. That was Home. And, a bit unnervingly, I still call it that even now. I don’t mean to, I really don’t. I like this new Home I have. I really do. I like the space and the air, the greenery and the birds.

But my old Home was family; it wasn’t just a brick and cement building. Imagine moving into a new Home and leaving one of your family members behind in the old one… That may sound extreme or exaggerated, and before moving, I might have thought the same if I had heard someone else make that analogy. But, I promise, that is how I feel. I have left part of my family behind. An old grandpa. Or old uncle. (Yes, my old Home was a man. Grey and wrinkly. And cracking in certain places. But he was loveable and dear.) It is impossible to bring him along, but it feels almost as impossible to leave him behind. I drive past this old Home and I struggle to picture other people inside it. I try to imagine them in our kitchen, eating around our table, or lounging in our living room, and I feel like they are intruders. I want to visit my old Home, just to see if he is doing okay. To see what they’ve done with him, and if they’re treating him well. Now, I know I am bordering on insane here, but how do you not become just a little bit crazy when you leave behind 25 years of running up and down the passage even when Mum said not to, banging bedroom doors to relieve teenage frustration, family breakfasts, lunches and suppers around an antique dinner table, or sounds of creaking doors that would alarm you to the approaching parent just in time so that you may hide that novel that you should not be reading or that movie that you should not be watching while you actually should be studying Bio or Geography for your final Matric exam? And if you think that sentence was too long to digest, perhaps that gives you a slight indication of the length of time I am trying to squeeze together into some comprehensible and tangible form so that I may keep it alive for a little bit longer.

Home

Now I know they say that Home is where the heart is, or where the family is, and that this is just a new place for me to make new memories, and that change is good and all of that. I’m sure they are right. But change and a new Home takes some getting used to, and memories take a while to become memories. So while I do honestly love this new place, I am still waiting for it to really feel like Home. In the mean time, let me share with you some things I miss about my old Home, my old uncle that I left behind. Some of the things on this list I had already documented elsewhere, on more temporary media forms, and due to a concerned friend, who kindly advised me to try to think of things I like about my new Home, rather than reflecting too much on the past, I stopped that list. But now I want to continue, but please note: this is not a lament. This is not a form of nagging and moaning for what is lost. This is just me reminiscing and fondly replaying the memories of a place that was Home for the first 25 years of my life. I’d like to look back 25 years from now and remember that place, and the details of it. But by then I’ll be 50. And I might have Alzheimer’s, or just plain ol’ bad memory. So these words might help as a supporting aid.

Memories at home

Things I Miss about my Old Home:

1. My cousin who lived 3 roads away. Random evening or afternoon walks up to her house, or random visits from her–these are no more. In fact, just random evening walks anywhere in the neighbourhood. We still take random walks in the evening in this new neighbourhood, to my sister who stays up the road, or just around for the fun of it, but there’s no community here. No little children running through the streets at a time that they actually should already be in bed, no teenage boys taking skateboard races up and down a cul-de-sac, or people sitting on stoeps having casual conversations in the cool night air. I loved seeing these things while my parents and I leisurely walk through the streets at night. Oh, and bumping into aunties and uncles along the way and stopping to greet but then ending up having a 30-minute conversation. (All our neighbours are aunties and uncles. I mean, our ex-neighbours.)

2. My neighbours. We weren’t the tightest-knit community of people. There were people two houses away whose names I did not know. But there was Uncle Kevin across the road; we never spoke, but we always waved in passing. There was Aunty Faeeza next to him; she always sent us guavas from her guava tree in her backyard, and I grew up playing with her children. There was Aunty Zaida next door; she made scarf shopping really easy and convenient because she sells them. And Uncle Muhammad who always stood on the corner at the end of our road; I’m not quite sure where he lives, and I’ve never spoken to him at all, but he waved in greeting to me each morning as I took that corner. And, like I said, all my neighbours are aunties and uncles, even those that lived roads away.

3. Hobos that you know and who become regulars at your house. I used to have conversations with them. It was memorable.

4. Shorter distance between Home and my place of work. And no traffic. At all. Just some annoying drivers along the way. But other than that, it was just me and the wide, open road. Now… I have more distance, annoying drivers, and a slow-moving, car-crammed, accident-prone highway between me and my place of work. Granted, that stretch of car-crammed highway is not very long before I again get on the wide, open M5 road, but when there are slow-moving cars, the 3 minutes you should spend on that highway to get to the M5 turns into 10-15 mins of agony.

5. My beautiful, close view of the mountains from my front stoep. My old neighbourhood is not the most scenic of places. In fact, it is pretty crowded and houses are very close to one another. But we were also close to the mountains. And I loved looking at it as I stepped out in the mornings, or on sunny afternoons. I love the mountains. Sometimes, as I’m driving, I am in danger of getting too close to the car in front me because I’m too busy staring at the glorious mountains and the different patterns and fashions in which the clouds cover it, So having the mountain so close to my doorstep was a huge bonus that I never took for granted.

This is not a pic of the mountain from my old Home. This pic is taken by a girl named Courtney. I found it somewhere in Cyber World, but it's taken in CT, and the distance between house and mountain is relatively the same.
This is not a pic of the mountain from my old Home. This pic is taken by a girl named Courtney. I found it somewhere in Cyber World, but it’s taken in CT, and the distance between house and mountain is relatively the same.

6. The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air from the nearby Blue Ribbon bakery. This one my cousin reminded me of–the cousin who lives three roads away. She lives in the neighbourhood too, so she would know. That smell… is beautiful. I would come to the red light at the intersection just outside the bakery and sit there just sniffing up that aroma. Gosh, I miss it.

7. Living around the corner from a masjid. That was just a blessing. There is so much attached to that. To which masjid will I rush through the streets during Ramadaan for taraweeh now? Which masjid will sound the athaan into our home now? There is no masjid near enough here.

8. The ‘Eid vibe. ‘Eid has just passed us. It was the quietest ‘Eid I have ever experienced. Reasons are already stated above: community, masjid, all of that.

9. Creaks, cracks and bangs that I knew. Here, there are sounds of creaks, there are cracks, and there are bangs that I am not familiar with yet. And they FREAK me out! Especially when I am alone at home. I knew every sound in my old Home, I knew exactly from which part of the house or from which object falling it came. Here, I do not. The sound of the wind even scares me.

I shall end it there. I do not want to make this list too exhaustive, lest it be thought that I am unhappy in my new Home. I am not unhappy. I am, indeed, very happy here. Alhamdulillah (All praise to Allah). I miss the old, naturally, but I certainly appreciate the new for what it is. It is spacious, fresh, lush, quiet and safe. I find new reasons to love it each day. And I know that soon, this Home will become an old aunty to me (this Home feels like a woman; a fairly young and fresh woman too). So do not be mistaken by my words of longing for my old Home. I long for it, and I will most probably always miss it a little. It was my first Home. It is where all my firsts happened. But I am excited at the new prospects. I have visions of amazing times here with my family in this new place to call Home.

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Have you ever felt connected to a building or place, like they’re a part of your family? Or am I just a strange person?

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NaPoWriMo Day 30: Speaking in Opposites

Remember, as a child, when you would play that game where you’d say something cool/weird/funny/scary to your brother/sister/friend, and they would look at you with excitement or awe written all over their face, and then you’d wait a bit just for effect and then say: “In the opposites!” and laugh your head off? Remember those days? Or is my childhood the only one which has those moments? Because then this would be a little awkward…

The last prompt of NaPoWriMo requested us to take an original poem written by someone else and to change as many words in the poem as we could to mean the opposite of what it originally says.

I chose As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes.

As I Grew Younger

It was a short time ago.
I have never remembered my reality.
But it is here now,
Behind me,
Dull like the moon—
My reality.
And then the wall sank,
Sank fast,
Fast,
Around me and my reality.
Sank until it touched the ground—
The wall.
Brightness.
I am white.
I stand up in the brightness.
Still the darkness of my reality behind me,
Below me.
More than the thin wall.
More than the brightness.
My feet!
My light feet!
Mend together the wall!
Lose my reality!
Help me to piece together this light,
To rebuild this day,
To mend this brightness
Into a single light of moon,
Into a single firm reality
Of moon!

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