Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Woman in a Tree by Sarah Mkhonza

In this collection of poems, Sarah Mkhonza retraces her escape from Swaziland to the United States, where the images that haunt her also set her free.

"Woman in a Tree" reflects some of Sarah Mkhonza's experiences inside and outside her home in Swaziland. This important volume of poetry is filled with sadness, laughter, and the bitter taste of exile as Mkhonza reveals her concern for local clan customs and reacts to the violence against women and the subverted democracy in the hands of the ruling class. She is telling us her story with 'red ochre spread on every leaf.'"
--Jayne Cortez

"Woman in a Tree speaks to us with palpable tenderness. As Mkhonza unhinges, unlocks, and releases the words of women, be they real or ficticious, living or dead, there is a surging hope that sings beyond the last page."
--from the introduction by Michelle Courtney Berry

SARAH MKHONZA is the author of countless newspaper columns, two young adult novels, and a memoir. Her chapbook Two Stories was published by Vista Periodista in 2007. She currently lives in Ithaca, New York, where she teaches Zulu at Cornell University.

From Woman in a Tree


On a bloody Sunday journey
At the emergency room of a hospital
In a town called Manzini
In a country called Swaziland
The weekend plays soccer
On the bodies of women.
The suffering kills me inside.
Seen everywhere, it invades me—
Women limping, hips dislocated,
Heads bandaged,
My niece with no eye, but a marble in the socket,
My niece dead, nothing but a memory.
When does it end, this beating of women?

Answer me! My anxiety fails me,
For I am lunar, I will go mad
And run away in the night, crying murder all over.
Somebody is mad and not me;
Somebody inside me sees.
I just speak for all,
I do.

ISBN 0-9798112-1-X
45 pages