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Catherine Okoronkwo, of Nigerian heritage, grew up in the Middle East and studied in the USA and UK. After working as a teacher of English for almost decade, she now works as a Church of England priest. She holds an MA and PhD in Creative Writing (MMU) and writes poetry and prose. Her micro-fictions, ‘The Killing and Uncle Blessing’, are published by Commonword in the anthology Elevator Fiction (2016). Her poem, ‘The Change’, is published in the University of Chester anthology, Crossings Over (2017). Purple Lilac, her first novel, has received high commendation in the Jericho Writers/Marjacq and Greene Door Project competitions (2018). She has contributed a chapter, ‘Black. African. Woman. Christian. And living with HIV in Britain – A discourse on spirituality, faith and the church’ to the edition of Unsung Sheroes in the Church: Singing the Praises of Black Women Now (autumn 2020).
Memories from another place, another time.
The Omoba yard where Mama Ukwu’s kitchen
funnelled tales among wafts of goat pepper soup.
Plantain and yam, oxtail and tripe stew, prepared
in Mother’s kitchen for special occasions.
On other days: plain pancakes sweetened
with lemon and sugar, peanut butter on thick-cut
bread from our local Beit Hanina store. A bowl
of porridge with Carnation milk swirled in…
Mama Ukwu talked and talked, dropped off;
head bopping, pulled-down lips dribbling,
snores deepened, lengthened ’til her morning Milo.
I am all these things: plantains, pancakes and pulled-down lips.