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Malika Booker writes about loss for Magma 75

The Little Miracles

After 'A Winter Night' by Thomas Transtromer (trans Robin Roberston)


Since I found mother collapsed on the kitchen 
floor, we siblings have become blindfolded mules 

harnessed to carts filled with strain, lumbering 
through a relentless storm, wanting to make 

our mother walk on her own again, wanting to rest 
our palms on her left leg and arm like Jesus, but 

constellations do not gather like leaves in a teacup, 
so what miracle, of what blood, of what feeble wishes 

do we pray, happy no nails hammer plywood, building 
a coffin, to house her dead weight, happy her journey 

crawls as we her children hold on like drought holds out 
for rain, learning what it is like to begin again, start 

with the, the, the dog, the cat, the date, the year, the 
stroke, the brain, the fenced in walls, she struggles 

to dismantle brick on brick. She cannot break this,
we reason, watching her left hand in her lap, a useless 

echo. We chew bitter bush, swallow our howling storm, 
reluctantly splintering under the strain of our mother’s 

ailing bed-rest. We smile at each of her feats: right hand
brushing her teeth in late evening, head able to lift 

without the aid of a neck-brace, her off spring’s names
Malika, Phillip and Kwesi are chants repeated over 

and over as if staking us children as her life’s work, 
her blessings, showing how much we are loved. The days

she sings walk with me oh my Lord, over and over, walk 
with me oh my Lord, through the darkest night…
and I sing 

with her, my tones flat to her soprano, just as you changed 
the wind and walked upon the sea, conquer, my living Lord, 

the storm that threatens me, and we sing and sing until 
she says, Maliks, please stop the cat-wailing before 

you voice mek rain fall, and look how the weather nice 
outside eh!
Then we laugh and laugh until almost giddy,

our mood light momentarily in this sterile room, where 
each spoonful of pureed food slipped into her mouth 

like a tender offering takes us a step away from feeding 
tubes, and we are so thankful for each minuscule miracle.

More information

This poem was originally published in Magma 75: The Loss Issue, edited by Adam Lowe and Yvonne Reddick.

Listen to poets reading their work at the Magma website.

Malika Booker writes out of a passion for Caribbean culture; the music, the food, the dance, the religion, the storytelling, the festivals, the musicality of the spoken language. She takes an active part in Carnival Mas in Notting Hill every year. In her house there is usually background music of Soca and Calypso and hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t speak to her family; these are the rhythms she lives by.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon.

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