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Finding ways to survive

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For so long now, Zimbabwe has held me in its challenging grasp
watching the unbelievable madness and violence take reign
feeling my soul shrink
perhaps there are times when we connect too deeply
in too narrow a field
and we forget we are part of an astonishing universe

as if with scales over my eyes
I stand waiting to see
living with grief . . .

I sit in this newly born, newly bathed, sun-slanted morning
Listening to the almost-silence

In a small pool on the rock
ephemeral lives dance this microscopic magical moment atop granite mountains
a breathing, procreating, creative memory of last night’s rain

do these minute fragments remember the stars?

There are times when we need to climb the mountain,
for the story catcher to listen to the distant stories
and weave this vision into the threads that cross the planet

‘ama poto, ama poootooo, ama poootoooooi, ama poto’
a chanting echo down the suburban street
a man with his hand-held welding machine
advertising his skills in mending what has been broken

The sekuru with two young nephews churn their battered truck down pitted dirt roads in rural Motoko
buying mangoes
with sheer willpower, they drive the old car the 150k to Harare
and camp on the side of the street till the mangoes are sold, or rot
8 mangoes for US$ 1

Tawanda brings bananas from Chimanimani
tied to the top of a smoking, crowded bus
In Harare they are arranged in neatly piled rows in his brothers’ barrow
and sold down Chiremba road
12 bananas for US$1

Mai Chipo sells the mealies and tomatoes she has grown in a small piece of wasteland
arranged in meticulous patterns on old tyres
outside her small hut

Tichafa slogs his way home with thirty pillows tied to his back
To sell at a small profit, to a distant rural store

From early morning purchases at Mbare Msika
vendors sell fruit and vegetables on the suburban roadsides
Straw hats made in China
old cloths sent in bales from Europe
windscreen wipers, seat covers, plastic watches, shoes, ironing boards, cell phones
that have been brought on overloaded mini busses from South Africa

Sekuru Peter has a sign on his  bike
and a very old camera in the basket
‘go fast photography
best service’

there are signs on the side of the road:

‘Tree cutting – best experts
Cell:0912 000 000’

‘anaconda worms
take me fishing with you’

bottles arranged in golden rows outside Marondera

‘voulantery work.
plse help’

three young men carry buckets of mud and stone
making their best attempt to fill up the huge potholes
long abandoned by the city council

Mike runs his small business
roasting mealies on a small fire on the side of Quendon road
- fast take-away hot meals for homebound workers

Tafadzwa opens her hair plaiting business in a small nook under the masasa outside the local store

Umbuya Moyo stands at the door of her hut
watching the 12 grandchildren left in her care
their parents dead or lost or fled to South Africa
now her work of love

Nhamo and Rodgers and Jane and Mike and Abby
dedicate their lives to healing torture victims like themselves
taking their workshop into rural communities

what resilience is this?
what echo is it, that threads through the bones of this land
bones that tremor and shake
then stand firm in the wake of the storm
shorn of their outer shells
their homes and livelihoods

finding a way to survive

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