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Dear Katy – Poems, Pictures & Prose by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

Dear Katy

Dear Katy

I was told you are buried in the row

alongside the highway

under a tree

along the fence I walked to them

reading names heavy with someone’s longing

none of the Khadijas I found were you Katy

I saw a man with a prayer book in his hand

standing as still as the trees and

I didn’t want to break what he had by the

leaves that would have crushed under my foot

and I left

not having found you

but knowing that the prayer I sent from my car

will get to you somehow

we could picnic in your cemetery

the sweeping spaces clipped green

and neat

the benches good for cupping us

between the hum of traffic

and the slow hush of grass

sectioned off by census of faiths

in death too we choose to lie close to our own

you would have told me so

perhaps it is that when we rise again

it will be among comforting commiserators

or if we did happen to call upon God by a rightful name

there’d be no rubbing our neighbours’ noses

in more dirt than they were accustomed to

red mounds of heaped soil for most Muslim graves

green perspex stenciled names

prayers for the highest stages in Heaven

among the few entombed and headed by

granite supplications more adamant

and then there are some with a clutch of

scratched-on plywood sticks

like plant markers

these grave gardens

grief wistfulness tend

careful beds of succulents

blooms flourishing both wild and contained

in pots and vases like

ornaments in your mother’s display cabinet

I will return to look for your tree

in this nursery of loving wives devoted husbands

dear friends and fallen angels

I will look for you  in the golden hour

when the day draws over your grave

gentle and warm God tucking you in for the night

and it feels like we’re nearing

the end of something perhaps

a hope that Death will not sneak up behind us

but walk towards us giving us

time to prepare.

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I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

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