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  • Neema Komba

Songs of the Lupine

Long overdue, but I am finally sharing these poems from June, 2021, two of which were featured in the Finnish-African Literature Arts Project (FALA) by the Finnish-African Society at Oodi Library in Helsinki.


The Lupine is considered an invasive flower that doesn’t belong to Finnish nature. In this mini-series of poems, I use the lupine as a lens to think about immigration, migration and invasion.


1. Alien

When they call you Matu

You hide in a field with other alien flowers

Your cotton hair firmly stands next to tapered petals on a long stalk

The lupine reminds you of corn

and unicorns

You want to weep

You run your fingers on their silky wings

And wonder why some people hate all things different

When they are afraid of you

Because they have refused to know you

When they don’t see you beyond your covered head

and coloured skin

You wonder

If you could scrub the black off your skin like new potatoes

Whether they would see you,

Whether they would want you then


I see you

And all the ways you gloriously shine

You are meant to be here, along with every other flower


2. Delinquent Flower

Sometime ago,

Someone somewhere saw you

Soar above the grass

Sway in a light breeze

Graceful and elegant

Like a giraffe.

Sometime ago,

Someone somewhere wanted you tame

They plucked your stem

And put you in a delicate vase

Picked your seed

Planted you in a garden

And now, you are everywhere.

Stomping boots into riverbeds,

Vandalizing fields,

The graffiti of flowers.

A wild thing,

Delinquent.

How can something so beautiful be harmful?

Tell me,

Have you always been this way?

Do you really hurt butterflies?

Arm-wrestle delicate plants,

Steal their spotlight?


Or do we misunderstand you,

Plant you in the wrong place

then blame you for, being you?


3. Thirty years

When you realize you cannot kill me without hurting yourself,

will you still want to poison your soil

to keep your nature, true Finn?

Do my dark stalks scare you?

Do I seem too foreign?

Am I not pink enough,

white enough,

or am I too purple?

How do I earn a place along the poor man's rose,

next to the grass by the highway?


Haven't I made you beautiful, too

Haven't I fed your birds and bees too,

Haven't I survived the freeze too,


Thirty years,

alongside you?


4. Wind

Every autumn I beg you to take me to the place I am told is my home

But you are not strong enough to blow me past the vast ocean

You have sent me here again, to Vaasa

Helsinki and Savo

On roadsides and bus stands


I have drawn a map in my dreams

I have drifted there

Like a slow-moving raft dancing on deep blue waves

I have retraced my grandparents' steps

To a place, I am told I should belong

Why do you always bring me back here?

5. Hummingbird

Every spring I open my petals

And let you sip my nectar

You draw my sweetness with a needle

Your kisses bruise but I need you

You know not how to give

But you sure can take

You flap your wings until they hum

You turn your head upside down

You speak in colour

Your feathers, metallic in the sun

You do not sing,

You dance, for you.

6. Perennial

Dear Lupine,

No perennial born of the soil dies

You have survived the coldest of frosts

Gorgeously,

Proudly,

You shoot off the ground when it thaws

Unafraid to start over

Dear Lupine,

Look at you stand in the meadow

Your white, purple, pink floating on green,

You have beautiful colours,

But your true beauty lies in your resilience

You bloom where you are planted

And spread your energy far and wide


7. Invasion

I do not want to remember the past

But it is etched on my skin

And written in my DNA

I do not want to admit I am afraid

So, I launched missiles at your daisies,

Crushed the forest stars

And spat on dandelions

I did not start a colonist


I just wanted to make a home

On your beautiful grasslands,

And forest beds

Next to violets and bluebells


Sometimes I forget I was once a guest

I take more than you can give

And cry that it is not enough

As if my right to exist has superseded yours

Can we start over?


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