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I watched my grandmother weave 
She’d sit on the concrete
Her henna covered soles 
Pressing down on the plaited la­­­­­kha reeds
Smooth beneath her foot

I watched her weave her story 
With patience, precision 
the wit of a woman
Her fingers tangled in the loose ends
Leading them in and out of each other

I would try to keep up
She would whisper in my mother tongue,
ghes beli - don’t rush
Then share with me wisdom from our history
She, illiterate
Only had her memories
And what her own hands could conceive

I watched her weave ­­­­
Tales of contentment and longing
defeat and glory 
Seeped into the braided reeds 

I watched her weave ­­­­
With absolute conviction 
That my own roots were captured 
in these interwoven contradictions 

Author's Note:

Read Manal's reflection on her commissioned poem here »

Meshrefet: This is a circular mat-like object that is hand-woven from reeds. There are different sizes and they are used for different things. For example, the smaller ones are used in the process of making coffee - a daily ritual - and the larger ones are used for making injera, a variety of flatbread. 
Lakha: Grown by the river, this is a plant used to make many household items and decorations in our culture. These items include meshrefets, baskets and brooms, among others.

Go to Manal Younus's profile to read more poems

Poem Audio

  • Manal Younus reads 'Meshrefet'