Monday, June 22, 2009

Please, Take Photographs

One of the high points for me at the Cape Town Book Fair involved poetry- a session on what poets mean when they write about love. It was a panel discussion led by Modjaji Books founder Colleen Higgs. On the panel were Sindiwe Magona, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Makhosazana Xaba, Malika Ndlovu, and visiting poet from UK, Xena Edwards. They each read a love poem showing love in the widest possible definition; the way that it should be thought of.

Mme Sindiwe Magona read a poem about the loss of our children to this vile disease AIDS. It is in her first book of poetry, also launched at this year's Book Fair and published by Modjaji Books. The name of the poem and the book is "Please, Take Photographs". The reading was one of the most moving for me. My mind slipped to all of the people gone, only photographs left to remind us.

The poem is haunting with the repeated title line, a photograph- a small comfort up against the death of a child.

....Please, take photographs, and tell the children why-
Take photos, before the young perish to the very last.

Take photographs! Take photographs, and put then on the walls.

So the image of the dear face will forever live on.

I know, small comfort is a picture, your son or daughter gone.

Cold is a photo, from it comes not warmth nor smile nor hug.

A photo does not laugh; it will not go to the shop for you

Or be solace in your old age. .....

This weekend when my giant teenagers were home from boarding school, I did just as Mme Magona instructed and took photographs. AIDS is an equal opportunity killer and I should not sit complacent thinking my children are safe for whatever reason I choose that lets me sleep at night. I will take photographs and tell the children why.


Tania Hershman said...

Very moving. Thank you. And what gorgeous giant teenagers you have!

Maxine said...

And what beautiful children you have, Lauri. May they grow as thoughtful and kind-minded as their mother. x

Lauri said...

Thanks for the compliments Tania and Maxine. I will pass them on to the Giant Teenagers; they'll appreciate them as all teenagers do. (or maybe that's all of us- I'll think on it)

Helen Ginger said...

Oh, Lordy, Lauri. I'm tearing up just reading the poem. I would have been bawling if I'd heard her read it.

Your kids are so cute!

Straight From Hel

karen said...

Moving poem. I love the photo of your children!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Powerful poetry. Those Giant Teenagers of yours have such lovely smiles.

My nephew died of AIDS a short time ago, what a terrible plight on the Earth. The poem made me cry and yes, all we have left are our pictures and memories.

Marinela said...

An inspiring write :)

Anonymous said...

That poem is so sad. You are right - AIDS is a vile disease. You just never know who it will touch.

Your teenagers are indeed, gorgeous, but also very cool!

Catharine Withenay said...

A very moving poem.
AIDS is such a destructive disease, particularly in southern Africa. It is destroying entire generations of people and leaving much grief and trouble in its wake.
We should all take photos, being grateful for what we have.

Lauri said...

Helen- I was in tears. I'm terrible with poetry in the first place, even happy poems read to me make me cry so I was a bit of a mess with this one.

Karen- This is a bit of the poem, it's quite longer than this. Mma Magona is an extremely talneted writer and speaker. I went to a panel discussion she was on about the political and the personal and she was wonderful. She also has a new novel out called Beauty's Gift (I think) also about AIDS.

Elizabeth- I'm so very sorry about your nephew. This disease is so evil and cruel.

Marinela-Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed the poem.

Selma-I will certianly let the Giant Teenagers know that you've deemed them'cool', they'll like that!

Val said...

what beautiful children.sorry I mean Young Adults! yes keep taking photographs and love every minute with them. Time is precious. the poem is heart rending and true; thank you

Val said...

another thought on photographs - apparently when people have to leave there homes in a hurry (earthquake, fire, or such) and they only have time to take one thing - it is said that the most frequent item chosen is a photograph

Lauri said...

Val that's very interesting about people going back for photos. I think I would too.