Lebo, in Parts

A Poem

By Shameelah Khan

I have pieces of old

wooden frames

engraved in it is the silence

of your name

that once echoed through my room-door

and your tiny feet making memory

on my wooden floor

in my wooden house

in the wooden


you believed you were once loved in


Remember when I couldn’t understand

what you were saying to me

and then I said

“Lebo- English”

and you said



Shameelah- Sotho”

You were right

You were always right

about me.


You were only eight

when we said our last goodbye

and your home

was falling apart

and my heart

was falling apart

at the thought of not seeing you




Tree-house stories

Staying in the backyard

until Mampaka called us in

our fingers faded

with muddy-dreams

of make pretend

when Nyiko was born

you went a little bit silent


You are in part you

in part me

in part silenced

a child



in parts



from your sacred navel

which guides

us together again

in part real

in part a dream