The Three Jewels

Jewel numero uno was born
Two days after Christmas festivities
Early drizzling rainy morning
Anxious expectant first father to be
Visits maternity ward
Steaming tea and egg sandwich in hand
Is it a boy or a girl?

The tiny creature is alive
Its tiny chest rising up and down
Rapid succession precious motions of life
Tiny hands clasped together under its cheek
What a peaceful blissful repose?
Eyes closed in silent sleep

The jewel almost killed his mother
Life’s inevitable risk
Exhausted mother in pain
Why does life have to begin with such pain?
Hardly had a wink of sleep
Deeps rips and tears in the canal
Why does life end in pain and grief?

Second Jewel

The second jewel was born
Weeks after Christmas festivities
On Superbowl Sunday
Two feet of drifting snow
Bitter cold of seventy degrees
Below zero Michigan winter

Father abandons Joe Montana
Labor pains too intense
Abandon spectacular show
Lamaze classes amaze father
Monitor mother’s breathing

Second jewel born after
Chorus of commands to push
Ten pounds the nurse says
Ready to dunk the basketball
Three hundred and sixty degrees
On a bitter cold Michigan winter

Mother and father doing well
First jewels giggle nervously
Little brother finally here
Who is not quite so little
Head alone too big for lap
On a bitter cold Michigan winter

Third Jewel

Third jewel is born
Nineteen days into the cold
Month of June of Savannah
In a desolate shanty compound
Clinic in Lusaka Africa
Built by the Irish
In the shanty compound
Named Kalingalinga

Men not allowed
Women in many states of undress
Stressful moans of labor pains
In the crowded maternity clinic
Father visits very hastily
Is it a boy or a girl?

I am outnumbered
Mother feigns complaint
With a twisted smile
On exhausted face
It is a boy
There goes a chance
For a delicate girl
Beautiful pretty dress
On Spring Easter Sunday

The tiny creature is alive
Breathing in rapid succession
Under the small baby blanket
Father squeezes wife’s hand
Kisses her on forehead
His eyes glisten all so slightly
Looks away dilapidated shanty
Murmuring congratulations
Will take you home in two hours
Now we have three jewels
by Mwizenge S. Tembo

The Sound of the Shower

The swishing sound
Of the shower
Early in the morning
Of yet another bright day
Of yet another troubled day
Of another anxious day
The swishing sound
Of the shower
Marks the end of the night’s
Union of sharing
Snores and more
The same bed and the same covers
No more tender touches
No more tender kisses
Whispers of I love you
Till night we meet again

The swishing sound
Of the shower
Brings relief to
Estranged partners of
A zillion nights of sharing
Same bed and same covers
Same dreams and same expectations
Till night we wish
We could not meet again

The abrupt sound
Of the shower
Sharp and painful reminder
That even passionate secret lovers
Locked in blissful ecstasy
Do momentarily part
Only if for one day
A peck on the cheek
A squeeze of the cheek
A passionate French kiss
Til night do us part
Til next time do us part

The swishing sound
Of the shower
Brings to a sudden halt
Early morning yearnings
Of lovers’ send off for the day
Fingers of a centipede
Explore smooth crevices
Those kisses and tender groping
I have to hop in the shower
I will be late for work
Til night do us part

The swishing sound
Of the shower
Washes the sweat away
The sweet smell of womanhood
The sweet smell of manhood
Throwing the baby away
With the bath water
The pungent smell of cologne
The piercing whiff of
Channel Number Five
Til night do us part

by Mwizenge S. Tembo

The Sting of the Sungununu

Six months of searing
Dry heat
Dry brown dusty earth
Rains finally pour in torrential
Brown water rapidly filling
Meandering through
Gaping crevices of parched earth
The sweet smell of the first rains

Trillion insects suddenly
Burst into dizzying activity
Crawling, singing, flying
On the ground and in sky
Hissing and buzzing
Tiny, small, and large
Black, green, red, white insects
All lovely colors in between
Lone, pairs, many and numerous
Hissing herds of the sisinya

The tiny black sungununu
One of them
Roams the village dirt
In search of food victims
Pestle and Mortar pounding
Mother wearily places
Bare bottomed baby on the ground
Baby babbles playing mouthing
The dirt that is everywhere
Baby suddenly shrieks in gasps
Cries in sudden bursts
Baby just breast fed mother wonders
What could be the matter?
Mother inspects carefully
Baby’s bare bottom
Locates a tiny bump
The telltale sign
Of the secret sting of the
Tiny black Sungunu ant