The Clerestory Podcast S1 E25

The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me
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I have a tribute that stretches from my navel.

I have a tribute that stretches from my

navel to the place where my mother

hangs her rosary and this is where you kneel because,

this is not the only part of the poem that may need a little worship.

I have peeves for trying to pick dust

from the wrong parts of your


No one builds an altar out of your naked

absence these days, I wonder how

I’ll worship

these parts of my skin that look like you.

I carry the grief of an entire generation

in a body of two decades

and an empty ashtray.

No one tells me how to mourn yet

no one mourns for you these days like I do.

I am an entire dirge

wrapped up in a love language

of sonnets and verses that sing to

a heart I don’t know enough to warm.

I come to you,

an act of worship,

a concoction of incense, perfume, frankincense and a prayer

that anoints a memory I don’t have at all.

My native name alone is a tribute.

I hear a dirge, a farewell and a crippled lullaby struggle out of my mother’s

tone each time she calls,

and God knows I have tried to cry

on her behalf.

Naomi Waweru (she/her) is inspired by love, vulnerability, the yearning of bodies to be free in their connection and has an eye for tradition and culture. Her writings present an adoration for the body. She portrays it as your first sanctuary. She has works on and forthcoming on Merak magazine, a voice from far away webzine, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, Kalahari Review, Poems for the Start of the World Anthology, Ampleremains, Afroliterary journal, Overheard Magazine, Artmostterrific, Lolwe and The African Writers Review. Reach her on Twitter @ndutapoems and Instagram @_ndutapoems.

Discover more from Naomi Waweru.