Deathways Dance

I wrote this poem in the summer of 2021, inspired by the courting dance of eagles…

You take me to a higher place
not too high that I feel any fear – but high enough
on rocks – huge boulders – that once were whales that swam in oceans
that covered this land – now bed to my vision
of you who stands beside me, wraps great wings around me
your bald head tucks mine into your white feathered neck
a cave – pulsating, padded redness
womb of transmutation
the only flame is the fire I call from inside me
the earth is my body that is born of yours
to crack the shell that I find around me
calcium membrane that builds new bones
I breathe my first breath and become another you – a partner – to you
who locks your claws in mine
and we drop from this precipice
two eagles – wings spread – we spin
we turn in the winds of these lands
we turn through cloud and light to know nothing more
one flame that flings itself deathways
until near the canyon floor
an unseen switch unhooks our claws
my wings rise again
you fly away without me
but I know we will begin again
it is the way.

Siya Turabi

A selection of poems

From The Last Beekeeper (Siya Turabi)

‘You bring the sound that never dies.
Carried on thin notes through reed, skin, and string.
It is the sound of truth, a law, dropped to the earth.
It is no accident.’

‘The black honeybees live deep in the forest.
Their honey is a healing gold.’

‘Only those who truly know the honey’s worth may receive it.
For they only listen to the ones who love them.
And for this love, the bees reveal their secret.’

‘Fourteen worker bees rode their paths to fourteen planets that lived around the sun.
They were six-sided planets that whispered strict instructions to these workers.
Make your caves to look like us, the planets said.
The bees brought this knowledge back to the earth where they built cities of wax.
Caves were built in these cities to be the birthplace for
Workers, drones, and queen.
Time spent in the cave was different for each.
Time obeyed the law of numbers.
Twenty-one days for workers, Twenty-four for drones, and sixteen for the queen.
Workers, drones, and queen.
All because the bees listened to the planets, which listened to the sun, which thanked the queen.’

Baba’s last poem

From The Last Beekeeper (Siya Turabi)

Here on the sand, I look to the line of ancestors staggered at my back
I hear the music that is still played by the very first one
and my vision trails through brother, father, grandfather
on and on – great-grandfather, great, great, great ones
great grandmothers too until there are blanks
and the stories that my grandfather told are mingled with other realms

of silken cloths made from worms brought over on a ship’s helm
to lands where fires burnt only at night and people sat,
singers, poets, people of the melodies that sung of their ranks
that go back to times when snakes first emerged from oceans
to follow trails set out by other creatures into the sun
worms, lizards and greater beings that became our birds

all of them with a line in time behind their backs – of ancestors
and I, who walk this beach and take a shell,
trace its spirals etched by each of the elements,
and sketched by mathematicians with incessant lacks
that drove them to discover the codes behind the patterns on each one –
shells, fossils, flowers, ferns, unfolding shapes and most of all the blanks

the spaces between lines on the shell in my hand, unnoticed until I sink
myself, a clear product of the paths of all my ancestors,
and bound by the line of time that reminds me of where I am from,
until I sink myself into that sound beyond perception by any sense
that rises from the spaces between the lines, between the tracks
that the mathematicians explore with a finite number of sums

beyond which the sounds of stars and all the blanks –
the spaces in between one star’s light and that of the other ones,
reaches my ears having travelled through the cracks
on the waves of codes that came down so our ancestors
could perpetuate their generations, not only to stand behind time’s helms
but to obey these invisible laws that unfold under our sun.

that help the queen bee plan the numbers of daughters to come
that help her plan from one generation to the next all those ones
born by the codes of unfolding, that also inform the spirals on this shell
which I put up to my ear and now thank
its etchings linked to the greatness of my grandmothers,
that will still exist even when time has slacked

I look to the line behind my back
time is not the keeper of these ancestors

All poems © Siya Turabi. All rights reserved.

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