For me and for many YAGM, our year has been about discovering many new things, both those easily found in our new homes, and those less easily discovered as they lay deep within ourselves. One such discovery of my own has been a love of writing and the spiritual rejuvenation it offers.

Writing unmakes and creates me.

If forced to define, it is spiritual,
Fingers flying across keyboards or bound pages
As a spirit not entirely my own works through me
Spilling words and thoughts and images
Into works I don’t feel I can completely own as mine.

Before the first letter,
That exhilarating beginning,
I feel new,
Inspiration fanned into a flame roars through me
I cannot sit still
My hands must move
And I am lost in the trance of creation
As my reality is taken over by
Something wholly other than and yet entirely me.

Words fly from me,
Their genesis a place deep within my soul
That even I have rarely explored.
They come, uncalled, gliding to the surface,
Demanding to be heard
And I do nothing more
Than heed the call.
Awash on a wave I cannot understand
I must simply ride
Until breaking upon the sand,
I raise my eyes
And look upon a changed world.

After that last period,
Final sentence,
I feel emptied, drained, hollowed out, used,
As I feel the spirit, the inspiration,
Settle down into embers
Awaiting the next stoking
But never completely extinguished.
I lay there, spent, unsure of what has happened
But knowing that I am changed.
And in that change, in the consumed hollowness,
I find a spark.

Little at first,
but it becomes
the next fire.


To My Children

The following poem/reflections stem from ongoing conversations between myself and many of the 2013-2014 South Africa YAGM crew, conversations about empowerment, self-identity, and our future families.

Dear ones,

You are loved.
Do you know that?
I have not yet looked into your eyes
Or felt your hands wrapped in mine
Or held you in my arms
But you are loved.
I love you.
I haven’t read you bedtime stories
Haven’t dried your tears
Haven’t chased you around the house
just to hear you laugh.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are loved.

You are beautiful.
Do you know that?
I haven’t met you yet
Haven’t wrapped your hair around my fingers
Haven’t watched your smile dance across your cheeks
But you are beautiful.
To me, you are stunning.
I haven’t seen your eyes, your nose, your toes,
Haven’t glimpsed your dreams, your loves, your soul.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are beautiful.

You are smart.
Do you know that?
I haven’t listened to you sing, read, act, or laugh
Haven’t seen you create, puzzle, or reason
Haven’t seen you interact, deduce, or learn
But you are smart.
To me, you are ingenious.
I haven’t seen you manipulate your father and me
Haven’t watched you play in worlds of your own imagining
Haven’t witnessed your capacity to learn.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are smart.

You are powerful.
Do you know that?
I haven’t heard you talk about your passions
Haven’t seen your eyes light up for something larger than yourself
Have no ideas about what will make your heat beat faster
But you are powerful.
To me, you are like a wave.
I haven’t seen you take the hand of someone in need of it
Haven’t seen you fighting silent battles
Haven’t seen the span of your heart.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are powerful.

You are amazing.

You are extraordinary.

You are loved
And so, so much more.
I hope you know it.

I can’t wait to meet you.


Remembering isiZulu

It’s funny what your brain remembers. While learning a new language, it’s been especially entertaining to make note of what my brain retains. While I sometimes struggle to remember how to properly respond to questions like “Where are you going?” or “Where have you been?”, I have no problem quickly and fluently telling someone to go home – “Hamba ikhaya”. Recently while reflecting on what isiZulu I am remembering, an obvious common theme was hard to ignore.

The Zulu I seem to hold on to the most, outside of daily greetings, revolves almost exclusively around the people I know and love.

Thembi has become sisomdala wami – my older sister.
Sibu is bhuti wam – my brother.
Mazwi is isithunzi sami – my shadow.
My little brothers are bafana bami – my boys.
Thula is sisomcane wami – my younger sister.
Mthobisi is bhutiomcane wami – my younger brother.
I jokingly call Mndeni mkwenyane wami – my husband.

And that’s just the names I call them.

Baba sometimes calls me indodakazi – daughter.
Thembi calls me sisomcane – younger sister.
Thula calls me sis wam – my sister.
Mndeni jokingly calls me koskaz or makhoti wami – my wife.
My congregation calls me Nomusa – grace.

It’s definitely not classroom language learning. There’s too much emotion tied into my limited vocabulary.

I’m certainly not going to be fluent before I leave. But I will keep learning new names and making new friends and expanding my vocab. And if I ever screw up, there’s always a willing teacher near by to help correct my mistakes.

Disclaimer: This isn’t the only Zulu I know, just the stuff that’s the most emotionally charged and therefor, the easiest to recall.