Stitching migrating proverbs, poem by Laila Sumpton

This is a response piece by a ‘roaming’ resident at Who Are We? project.

Stitching migrating proverbs

When you darned you wove in this
to warm my soles-
knowing I’d walk away:
‘if you are a stranger, be polite.’

When you lit candles we heard this
as the wick took light from somewhere-
‘the river always reaches the sea.’

When women offer silted coffee
I trade cardamom parcelled in headlines,
here- let me sprinkle some Grandma wisdom
to perfume any bitterness you harbour:
‘knock on the door and you will hear the response.’

It takes me back to the carpet I still trace with my toes,
the tassels I wove into braids as you told me
‘he who leaves his house lowers his value.’

Now you bring a teaspoon of orange blossom
for my pillow. Where you grew
light slanted a different angle
your spheres a different tinge
and we compare tinctures-
similar fragrance, varied words
but still declaring:
‘women are half the society,
and they bring up the other half.’

Before you travel take this one-
‘do you want the grapes or killing the guard?’
What will you do for grapes?
Don’t worry it will leak,
no matter how many bags you wrap around
to guard it’s saffron drip. Show me your hands-
yes, you’ve held this one too long.