Tariq Latif
The Chucky

My grandmother straddles
Around the chucky. She funnels
A handful of maize into the hole

Then she turns the upper slab
Clockwise, just as her mother used to.
Sometimes she feels the grainy texture

Of her grandmother’s palm, sometimes
The flexible and awkward energy
Of young eager hands. Once

Light spilt from between the slab
Of the chucky and the mud dried room
Filled with the spirits of all our mothers

Voices spoke, voices hummed, voices
Sang of lush gardens, wondrous
And rich, of undying streams

And fountains that poured clear honey.
But usually all she can see
Is her aging hand, all she can feel

Is an aching absence. My mother
Has a Philips grinder and my sister
Knows how to change a fuse.

And when they make maize roti
We always have it with spinach
And lots of butter. Sometimes the scents

Swivel my grandmother’s elbow
Before our eyes and we recall
The story of how our mother

Ran in with dad to tell
Her mum of their plans to go to England
How the grinding stopped and the flour

Spilt and the sudden silence
Was interrupted by a gust

Which shut the door on the light.