Poetry Shelf favourites: Khadro Mohamed’s ‘Pink Lakes’



all they know is the familiar site 
of unturned stomachs
sand-caked faces 
oversized, bloated bellies 
jet-black eyes
sticky lashes
tinted curls with dust caught in between
broken tomato fields
houses made of earth
a heat that rises slowly 
with an intensity that distorts the footprints
and turns leaves into coffee powder and
dehydrated calderas where lakes used to be
even now, the feeling of emptiness sticks to me
like the skeleton of wisteria on the inside of my veranda in winter
like the deep brown undertones of my skin
if only baba could tell them that the earth that once
covered our home gave birth to flower fields 
and entire forests that could swallow science whole
gravity-defying vines with pepper growing on the ends
that the sky dances only for us, leading us through 
oceans, the long-winded spine of our coast and capsized ships

if only they knew the kingdom that once ruled
this rich and vibrant land

has remnants scattered along the earth 
feeding the mouths of goats
that carry stars in their bellies and 
oud string in their U-shaped shoes
if only they could land on the shores 
of pink lakes, baobab silhouettes
and lion calls.


Khadro Mohamed

from We’re All Made of Lightning, We Are Babies Press, 2022

This poem ‘Pink Lakes’ was published in Starling last year and also features in my poetry collection, it remains as one of my favourites because of the imagery and the emotion behind each word. One of my favourite ways to write is through imagery and I think this poem does a good job at using a range of different images to evoke strong feelings. I like that it’s a mix of anger and awe, a mix of darkness and light and that balance creates an immersive experience. It is one that I often return to when I want inspiration to write something new that follows a similar flow. Khadro Mohamed

Khadro Mohamed is a writer and poet from Wellington. Her work often speaks to her own unique experiences as a Somali-New Zealander. Her work has appeared in various online magazines, notably: Starling, Pantograph Punch, The SpinOff and more. Her debut collection of poetry, “We’re All Made of Lightning” can be found in all good bookstores across the motu. 

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