Dedicated to my mother Rozetta Zleh Goah

Throughout my travels, that take me so far from home, I often reflect back and think of my childhood and my mother. Each morning she journeyed into the forest to provide for her family. This poem is dedicated to my mother Rozetta Zleh Goah of Zleh town, Grand Gedeh County, Liberia.

Woman of Zleh town
Written by: Bernard Gbayee

Old woman of Zleh town,
How great art thou in all you do.

You work the forest from morning to night,

From Sinagboa creek to Donie creek, Creeks that feed
sons and daughters of Gbao.

You need no GPS to navigate,

Neither do you need a compass to know north and south,
For your north and south are in your head,
From knowledge passed down to you from old.
You know where the palm farms start and end,
And the swamp farms you know as well.
So, there is nothing to worry about.

When December nights get so cold,

And you return with joyous heart and thoughts,
With a fishing net hanging on your shoulder,
Where you go to fish so far from town.

Your movement seem to be so slow,

Helplessly you walk due to heavy weight,
That falls on the basket behind your backs,
Full with cat fish and fire fish as well.

You come to know that you must hurry,
Faster and faster you try to walk,
Because darkness is about to fall.

Although you know darkness comes so quick,

Your hope of light comes from above,
From the light that lights the sky,
From a large fufu high in the sky,
During the darkest moment of the night.

You march head up towards your hut ,

Like a lioness that returns from the hunt.
But unlike a lioness who body needs no bath,
You must wash the mud off your body,
And wash away the scent of wild bread fruit leaves as well,
Those scents that stick on clothes like gum.

You must sit and clean your fish,

From the warmth and comfort of your kitchen,
Where the fire hearths are red and hot.

Then a glimpse of a smile appears,

Upon your faces as your heart cheers,
To show appreciation of your hard work.

You lie and rest your head in bed to sleep and wait,

For the morning light that must come to pass,
To start your journey all over again.
In deed I love the old woman of Zleh town.

Written by: Bernard Gbayee Goah


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