Celebrating East African Writing!

A Mother’s Cry by Timothy Wainaina

Why do you cry, and startle the women,

Why does your shrill cry split the silence so!

And drown the ululation of these mothers

Who have come to hold your mother’s hand

And usher you to your second life

While your father roams the city, searching

Searching for a drink and searching for women?


Why are you so ungrateful, child,

Why do you bite my nipple and scratch my hands

These hands that hold and feed you

These hands that clothe and you

While your father roams the streets, working

Working the drink and working the women?


Ah! Child, are your eyes too small or the light too blinding?

Do you not see the glint of the circumciser’s knife?

As he cuts you and gives you a name

The name of your father’s clan

While your father roams the fields, gathering

Gathering a drink and gathering women?


Are your ears still too wet, too small perhaps,

Do you not hear the drums, hands clap and feet thumping?

The soloist’s climax and the chorus of your kinsmen

Praising your mother and your father’s clan

While your father roams the country, dancing

Dancing with drink and drunken women?


Why do you kick like a restless donkey,

And clench your fist tightly like one holding a stone?

Are your fists not too small to clasp, your muscle too supple to throw?

Will you also hit me and kick me

While your father roams the earth, hitting,

Hitting on drink and hitting on women?


Why do you cry and shame me, child,

Will you not grow tall, and strong

And hold my back when my spine is gone

When these limbs grow old and shaky

Will you not guide me to my death bed?

While your father roams the earth, dying

Dying with drink and dying of women?




One comment on “A Mother’s Cry by Timothy Wainaina

  1. baru
    December 7, 2010

    Amazing amazing poem…this is the kind of poetry that makes me fall in love…with poetry that is, all over again


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