A Poem I Like #7


A Poem I Like #7

Parachute by Afeefah Khazi-Syed

every time i settle at your feet with a bowl of coconut oil in hand
swirled and warmed for exactly fifteen seconds in the microwave i feel

the hands of each and every one of them must have also moved like yours
working through knots of carelessness and exhaustion

the wrinkles on your fingers must have been passed down through hidden
battles i will never know of

and this massage routine must have grown in perfection through centuries
of ammis and nanis and dadis

when you neatly fold my hair into your signature braid something tells
me these words have been said before

"when will you start taking care of yourself?" i answer by asking you
the same
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Afeefah introduces the idea of ritual just as her words pull me into a
single moment---a moment that holds all the weight of lineage itself.
She describes seemingly forgettable details and reminds me that every
detail is important when a moment is treasured. As she unpacks the
weight of these moments, she leans into her lived experience unafraid
that some of her truths may present as unfamiliar; she draws on a
respect for the unknown.

the wrinkles on your fingers must have been passed down
through hidden battles i will never know of

Getting hair braided has only ever been an observed experience for me.
I've never had braids or cornrows even though it's something I've wished for
once or twice (haha). So I will never understand, viscerally, what
Afeefah is writing about, but I think that adds to the mystique. When we
encounter truths that we do not encompass, and that we know we do not
encompass, we are forced to consider the world that lives beyond our own
horizons. We are forced to accept our own limitations and to confront
our own ignorance. That's embarrassing. If we can embrace humility and
hold courage, though, when someone comes to us with unfamiliar truths we
can travel to a world beyond our own by living vicariously through them.
This is true for strangers from different cultures, different
countries.....and different times. Our parents and ancestors are
intrinsically connected to us and yet they hold truths that are
inevitably beyond our horizons. We know this because they lived and
loved much before we ever breathed. We know this because sometimes
evidence of their wholly unknown lives peaks through in the "wrinkles on
\[their\] fingers". Graciously our parents may share of bit of these
truths, but the rest we will never know. And that is fine. So long as we
remember that we do not know, we can hold tighter to the llegacies and
stories we have been gifted and never forget a reverence for the
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