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Emmanuel Sigauke

Raising a Boy

Today my son took two hours
to finish his sadza & liver plate:
our rule here is you finish your portion
even if you think it's poison,
then the good things come later:
I hug a Heineken
as he dives into Breyers Vanilla something:

not today --
he has been circling one browned piece
of a bull's liver (this he knows),
has for once finished all the broccoli first
now only two pieces of fried plantain sit
on the edge of the plate;
he knows that's not eating --
he knows too that he could microwave something
but he knows what leads to Breyers
or to Old Sacramento
or to the America River Park
or to somewhere that defines fathers and sons
on a long Memorial Day Weekend:

I'm rearing a man here;
if he doesn't remember the liver being
anything he ever liked
a man should know what to do:
approach the other man,
give a comment about
probably how the food is delicious
about how perhaps
he wonders if perhaps
I can take over the attack of the bull
as he perhaps
reaches for poor pasta
wave it in micro -- the pre-tortured ones
and eat that, then conquer Breyers
and make the jog to Old Sacramento,
the Memorial Park to throw things at things
before returning home
to greet the TV,
later the bed
invite dreams not of bull livers pursuing one;

my son knows the one message
that sometime in the past
I delivered the lesson
of why let a plate of dead creatures
conquer you
when elsewhere (I always mean Zimbabwe)
children sleep with hunger (had to explain this over and over again --
that to sleep on an empty stomach
translates from a cruel idea
of sleeping with the enemy --
raging hunger!)
and he has watched Discovery Channel
has had diasporic dreams
the kinds that had Kunta Kinte's children
dreaming about Asante games
they had never really played --
so he knows; you eat your food
you just appreciate your food.

I will let my son stare at his liver
I will let him squander our visitation hours
staring at that bull's liver
I will let him finish his broccoli
his gravy
the plantains in the plate
and even the sadza
but let him stare at the bull --
until, like a man
he visits the throne of another man
and state (at least just this one time)
that he would rather have
something else --
perhaps, perhaps, perhaps:

The revelation is:
Once I was this village boy
gobbling all and everything sat before me;
otherwise, the other hoard of boys
would empty my plate;
I became a popular racer
in the plate
champion of sadza
stripper of earthen and metal plates
grinder of chicken and bull bones
slivers of livers
boiled, fried, further browned, or just charred:

But wouldn't it be wonderful
just for one day
to watch how I would have fared
had I had this much choice
even where I knew
the other man in the room
would not hear a word
about perhaps pasta?

So after the two hours
I invade the kitchen
return with the parental reward:
more plantain pieces and gravy --
in exchange for the cold and abandoned bit of bull.

Generational Gap

The young
here have seen the creased brows
of the elders
and wondered what therapy
what form of awakening they need.

furrowed brows are abundant
when you wake up and the message from home
is that four deaths have occurred
two in the family
one in a family friend's family
another of someone you knew
someone who was always there --

the message from a number
with country code 263
states clearly:
"While your presence always goes a long way
Just send the money
with a vision of culture
knowing no one will bury the corpses
until the ritual greens
begin to chock the throat of culture"

Furrowed brows
injured hearts --
bank accounts seeking asylum
in Noone's Land.

©2007 by Emmanuel Sigauke

Emmanuel Sigauke was born in Zimbabwe, where he started writing at the age of thirteen. After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe with a BA in English, he moved to California, where he completed graduate studies. He teaches English at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, where he is an editor for the Cosumnes River Journal.

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