The Little Miracles

After ‘A Winter Night’ by Tomas Tranströmer (translated by Robin Robertson)

Since I found mother collapsed on the kitchen
floor, we siblings have become blindfolded mules

harnessed to carts filled with strain, lumbering
through a relentless storm, wanting to make

our mother walk on her own again, wanting to rest
our palms on her left leg and arm like Jesus, but

constellations do not gather like leaves in a teacup,
so what miracle, of what blood, of what feeble wishes

do we pray, happy no nails hammer plywood, building
a coffin, to house her dead weight, happy her journey

crawls as we her children hold on like drought holds out
for rain, learning what it is like to begin again, start

with the, the, the dog, the cat, the date, the year, the
stroke, the brain, the fenced in walls, she struggles

to dismantle brick on brick. She cannot break this,
we reason, watching her left hand in her lap, a useless

echo. We chew bitter bush, swallow our howling storm,
reluctantly splintering under the strain of our mother’s

ailing bed-rest. We smile at each of her feats: right hand
brushing her teeth in late evening, head able to lift

without the aid of a neck-brace, her off spring’s names
Malika, Phillip and Kwesi are chants repeated over

and over as if staking us children as her life’s work,
her blessings, showing how much we are loved. The days

she sings walk with me oh my Lord, over and over, walk
with me oh my Lord, through the darkest night… and I sing

with her, my tones flat to her soprano, just as you changed
the wind and walked upon the sea, conquer, my living Lord,

the storm that threatens me, and we sing and sing until
she says, Maliks, please stop the cat-wailing before

you voice mek rain fall, and look how the weather nice
outside eh!
Then we laugh and laugh until almost giddy,

our mood light momentarily in this sterile room, where
each spoonful of pureed food slipped into her mouth

like a tender offering takes us a step away from feeding
tubes, and we are so thankful for each minuscule miracle.


Reproduced with kind permission from Magma Poetry.