Skip to content

Hot Desk Extract: From Grains to Gold

Read Sunday, 24 Feb 2019

As part of the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowship programme, Magan Magan worked on a collection of poems, From Grains to Gold, exploring the theme of grief.

The book goes through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each chapter in the collection is dedicated to a stage of grief – starting with a poetic line introducing the stages.

Share this content
Grainy photograph of windows on a concrete building

My father hits me, but he loves me


Smoke and Mirrors 

When Ella’s mother throws her out
Ella says: it is my choice.
When they leave, Ella says: I let go.
When Ella’s lover says: I don’t love you anymore
she says: it is okay.
When they say: Not you, you’re different
from the rest,
she tells herself they don’t mean to say that.
The mechanic hikes the price for servicing
she says: I need the extra service.                

When she feels you looking at her face
turning into a muddy river and
her skin filling up with little holes
of heat and sweat.
She says:
I wish you’d turn around.  

They should have taught you the difference between a caring body and a curious one 


You Are Her Mother

And she is your daughter.
You relate scriptures to her
and she writes strange love poems to you.
The balls of her feet reek of regret
and your name.
Her mouth stretches open.
The words: I’m moving out
leave her mouth the way a soul leaves
the body of a person being choked to death.

You are her mother.
You jump into her suitcase,
hug your body
and scream: don’t leave.
She bargains with you
as though you are her child
refusing to eat. 

The sound of your voice
lathers her mind.
You are the foundations
of her home. 

But you know that
don’t you? 

All those years we spent staring at her lips, violently waiting for the weight of her stubborn, pretty soul to murmur what could free her. Your mother will not apologise though she is your mother 



There was something about how desperate you were.

How you smelt of sorrow dipped in vinegar.

You were sweltering in your loneliness.

After some time you turned into an onion.

When they cut, your bloodied legs sting the world.

Since when has anything forbidden stopped you from wanting?

Your body ached in two parts: one for your mother, the other

memories carried from the empty dry land of dila.


On the news this morning I heard your name: Somalia –

hoisted onto your small shoulder,

as if it were

a heavy



Dila is a small town in the western regions of Somaliland


Your brain is slowly being covered with a cold blanket


The Body Has A Voice Too 

This morning my body said,
undiagnosed problems have a way
of coming back with a vengeance.
And when I closed its mouth
the flesh between
my thighs became a knife
sharpening itself
against my skin.

A cool breeze greets you here. Let your skin peel. Your pain has meaning here. No one can ever take that from you.



You were the silhouette standing
behind the burning window last night.
Your mother fell to the ground
like a building collapsing when
she realised it was you.
This morning I found my inheritance –
my mother’s trauma tucked in my chest. 

The police visited:

        We are sorry about
        your loss, Marian.
        The body was identified as your son’s.

She lets out a groan as ugly as
the mouth of a bear eating a baby.
I thought illness or drugs would take
him away but this? 

I hold my stomach when I go to bed.
My body wants to bend from the hips.
The loss drags my head to my feet to form a circle.
In the middle I carry his invisible face
burning into rest.
Sometimes I can hear him at night.
Running with the bustling Somali boys
underneath the commission flats.

They sound like bullets and confetti –
civil war and celebration.

Stay up to date with our upcoming events and special announcements by subscribing to the Wheeler Centre's mailing list.

View our privacy policy
Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.