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Sweet Honey Nights.

Sweet Honey Nights

 I spent many years
 Trying to understand my mother
 And I am sure she tried even harder
 To understand me--her youngest daughter
 We were so alike, and yet so different
 A powerful river of determination
 Ran in our blood
 When she wanted something
 Mama sure went for it
 I do the same!
 And I remember it was great
 When both of us wanted the same thing
 But when our wishes differed
 The storm, the heavy rain of tears, and the pain
 To this day I remember that well

 After she died I realised that
 My mind did not recall
 Any of the good times
 The pain and the tears filled my thoughts
 Soon I knew I had to go back
 Shake up the bones
 And try to find the other stories
 From the bones of memory

 The grass from her grave was swaying
 In the wind, whispering a quiet rhythm
 For a long time I stood and listened
 Lost to my immediate surroundings
 Caught up in a time when I was very young
 More playful and excitable than I am today

 And then I think I heard a jawbone move
 I felt my ear starting to itch
 And I think I heard these words:
 'Sweet honey nights, sweet honey nights
 Winter times in the Eastern Cape
 Close your eyes, remember the smell
 And the taste of honey
 Sweet honey nights, sweet honey nights
 Smile a little, swallow once and the story is yours'


In her anthology Love Child, a combination of poems and narrative, Gcina Mhlophe shares her personal journey through the social and political landscapes of the 1980s, and her development as a writer, playwright and performer. For many years now she has been South Africa's favourite storyteller. In 'Sweet Honey Nights' remembers her mother bringing a bucket of honey from the forest to the warm thatch hut where she and her siblings were resting on sheepskin rugs after a delirious and filling supper. 'Wide eyed and full of anticipation we suddenly felt our stomachs making space for what was to come,' she writes, and while the winter wind howled outside, Gcina felt like she was in heaven, 'savouring our sweet honey night."

Gcina concludes this story saying that one needs to have sweet memories such as these in the difficult and violent times we are living in. "Working so much with young people as I do, I keep trying to add my own share of sweetness; little mouthfuls of honey, one spoon at a time.."

--Love Child, University of Natal Press, 2002
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Article Details
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Author:Mhlophe, Gcina
Publication:Sister Namibia
Article Type:Poem
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:427
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