uMakhulu’s hands

a poem by Ongezwa Mbele

uMakhulu is now an ancestor, so the land is dry but it is the tangible form we have of her


My grandmother’s communion with the land

Is a ritual of her ploughing and harvesting

the fruits and food in the heart and spirit of its existences

She traces the landscape of our genealogy

Of the land that gave birth to me


To her

To us


With her hands which are the color of dark soil

They are wide open with the art of lifelines on her palms

racking and sifting the soil’s particles

to make way for the seeds to be planted

and rooted in depth of our marrows and existences

As if she is saying should we ever to get lost and confused in this life pulsating journey

We will find ourselves in the food of this earth

While the blue ocean of the sky watches over us

With it galaxies

as we work the earth

This will be our healing


My grandmother stands steady and firm on the land

While the wind sings from a distance

She mirrors the trees that surrounds her

They wave their leaves in worship of her

Of the land


This is her church to me

This is her communication and connection to her humanity

Teaching me that the land is one with me


My history

and pre-history


And it is our compost and compass to navigate

our growth