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About this poet

Gabeba Baderoon’s most recent poetry collection is The History of Intimacy (Kwela Books, 2018). Her previous collections include The Dream in the Next Body (Kwela Books, 2005), A hundred silences (Kwela Books, 2006), and The Museum of Ordinary Life (DaimlerChrysler, 2005) and the monograph Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post-Apartheid. Her honors include the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship. Baderoon is the co-director of the African Feminist Initiative at Penn State University, where she is an associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and African studies. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

Old Photographs

On my desk is a photograph of you
taken by the woman who loved you then.

In some photos her shadow falls
in the foreground. In this one, 
her body is not that far from yours.

Did you hold your head that way
because she loved it?

She is not invisible, not
my enemy, 
nor even the past. 
I think
I love the things she loved.

Of all your old photographs, I wanted
this one for its becoming. I think
you were starting
to turn your head a little, 
your eyes looking slightly to the side.

Was this the beginning of leaving?

From So Much Things To Say: 100 Calabash Poets. Copyright © 2010 by Gabeba Baderoon. Used with permisson of Calabash International Literary Trust and the author.

From So Much Things To Say: 100 Calabash Poets. Copyright © 2010 by Gabeba Baderoon. Used with permisson of Calabash International Literary Trust and the author.

Gabeba Baderoon

Gabeba Baderoon

Gabeba Baderoon’s most recent poetry collection is The History of Intimacy (Kwela Books, 2018). 

by this poet

poem
Green pincushion proteas grow
in my memory, swaying faintly
in today’s wind. Memory snags me
through the pink pincushions I bought this morning
from the auntie in the doek by the Kwikspar
who added a king protea to the bunch,
all spikes and pins in reds and maroons,
so regal that as a child I didn’t know
they
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