The smell of cumin and coriander
mingle with the frying onions
The house is huge
but the warm spiced filled kitchen
is where I find them
stirring bubbling pans
While other deft hands roll out chapatis
Their laughter like children
infectious and joyful
welcomes me in
come Auntie they smile
take off your coat
eat with us
A chair pulled out
A steaming cup of tea appears like magic
These women have fled their lives
left family and belongings behind
witnessed more torment
than I will ever know
Yet here they are
free from servitude
At the refuge we are building bridges
from clean slates
Letting each woman map
their own destination
finding their voice by
sharing the recipes of their mothers
as they rinse tooth white basmati
simmer it till cooked
serve it straight from the pan
in fluffy, pillowy, mountains
argue about the amount of chilli powder
red pungent reminders of the homes
they have lost
and the ones yet to be built
By the glow of the oven
a campfire confessions begins
As they share stories
and plan futures
from the brick dust
of shattered memories
Scooping green beans
in warm bread
their fingers stained yellow by Turmeric
The croaking of the ravens in the treetops break the silence of this thin May afternoon. The sun warms her skin. She is ebb and flow, light and shade. Here in exile, protected. Woman.
She leaves parts of herself on the ground where she stands, salty, hot tears of hope drop and bead on the dry soil before disappearing slowly, becoming part of this earth. A sparrow bathes in the dust.
One fine hazel hair escapes her hood and falls, descending unhurriedly where it too will nourish this earth, this island refuge. She has no name but I know she was here. I sense her presence on this thin May afternoon, as the croaking of the ravens in the treetops break the silence. So many women unknown, united, untold stories entwined.
Grandad read manga to me, tales rendered in Chinese ideograms that made no sense on the settee exploring a white-black world, the antics of a time-travelling genie-pet-bot. I remember him snoring, newspaper on bureau vintage safety razor disassembled beside; me slicing newsprint into the finest strips with purest trust and glee, before whiteness and pandemonium erupted alongside my blood.
No memory of wounds healing but they had as my fingers unlock robot gantries readily into workplaces easy and uneasy. Offices as second homes, an innate desire for safety yet a fraught recipe when enterprise and endeavour enter the mix: relief where doors along plain corridors yield no blade or trap, delight where open-plan cubicles and fads pose no gauntlet or minefield, dismay where the toxic reign in guise of colleague or superior, disgust where each word or comment is uttered in the tongue of worms.
Yet why do contrived dangers lurk within when the struggle is without, petty imagined slights wraith into phantom blood feud? Why must work hurt, must toil wound must labour scar, must would-be kin remain would-be? Why are kin denied where kin are.
Something there is that rejects evil, seeds hope and sows faith to uproot it, withholds air and succour from they who prey. As empath and shield we strive, to make sense in this world – what could be, what should be – with purest trust and glee.