Maureen Ryan

Here’s a poem by Maureen Ryan, inspired by her visit to South Africa. Maureen hosts the Tuesday Salon Poets here in Penistone and is a fantastic driving force behind lots of local events, poetic and otherwise!

No Foster and her grandson outside her home, with Maureen in the background!

No Foster and her grandson outside her home, with Maureen in the background!

 

Women of Kalechi

Rows of tiny wooden shacks
line the back lanes of Kalechi.
A small parcel of land
separates each cluster of six.

Across the lane, a single wire
carries electricity to the house
of No Foster and her family.
She strains her eyes, stretches

her angular fingers as she guides
the brightly coloured fabric
through the borrowed sewing machine.
Her daughters sit on the doorstep

making jewellery from rainbow beads
clustered in a clay bowl.
They thread each bead
onto precious strands of ribbon.

Next door, other women gather
round a table, making soup
from vegetables and scraps
they have brought from their homes.

One woman walks to the main street.
From a central water tap, she fills a large pail,
balances it on her head and carries it
through the lanes to the waiting women.

Resting on an open fire is a cast iron pot
to which the water is added,
the soup stirred and tasted.
When satisfied that it is ready,

they pour it into hand crafted bowls.
First, they serve the elders of Kalechi,
then the children. What is left
is shared among the women.

Maureen Ryan

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