Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rethabile Masilo

The Stones Of Mohokare

We picked flint for its flatness
and curled thumb and forefinger round it,
then bent at the waist to almost touch
the yellow carpet of shoeshoe blossom
covering most of the moist turf with colouring,
and flicked from the wrist. The trick was
to send the stone flying on the water’s surface
at some angle from nought to forty-five,
like the prow of a proud ship,
and unbend only after releasing the stone,
seeing it hover like a craft on a bumpy sea
to stop and anchor at port on the OFS side of the river
that separates our two countries, and fattens
the land that is boundary, as south-west it flows,
to Bethulie and the ocean, where all life goes.
Sometimes we swam across it, late in summer,
when the white farmer’s trees were so heavy
with peach and appelkoos that their fronds
dusted the ground like farm hands,
the deep brick of the fruit telling us
which tree was ripe; or, pulled by a fragrance
that sometimes hit as we walked behind
from where a breeze was coming across, we knew.
We broke whole branches off and used them
as rafts on the way back, starting to eat
on the run, in the mid-river sun.
The beet-faced farmer always burst from his huis
in anger, and trained a rifle on us, as we made off
into the river with the loot. But no shot ever came.
Maybe he had no faith in apartheid. Perhaps
the theft and hover-crafts linked our worlds,
our peoples, living the destiny of the river.

For Bui Thi Kim Thanh

Men entered her home,
took her in a trunk
to the clinic of Biên Hòa.
That same day it rained.
The god of rain got very drunk.

Men entered her home,
took her in a trunk
past the Dông Nai valley
filled with war junk.
Out there, the rain nicks
bark and bast away.

Men entered her home,
took her in a trunk
to the clinic of Biên Hòa
that same day.

Corn rows & mealie silk

Why do you suffer the look of my eyes
with such intent/ does their brutal blue

inspire you somehow? Why do you
flaunt the curves of your brown body

to the whip of my stare/ does it make you
a star? What about your mind whose soul,

like the singing wind, can never be
possessed? Beauty is no excuse for love/

with crimson and mocha let’s fashion this
union, let's bond in a mosaic ampersand/

let my white sea trap the isles of your eyes,
and your sun’s vitamin thaw these polar caps

about me/ let’s do it now, feeding from
one another, whatever may come.

My father’s killers

They take to the road at midnight, and turn
Toward land that by right we plough and turn.

Their dark convoy passes white-washed houses.
A brake light: the bakkies slow down, and turn.

They park at right angles to the street,
Light the yard up, it's daddy’s day and turn.

They have come on a crisp September night
To blight us, make our season change and turn.

The moon shimmers its flashlight on a blade
While, from a height, the planets spin and turn.

Blood River Train

When time works against us
and weighs at the heartsome
where in a foreign land,
night turns to day, and
the fashion in shop windows
I pass on my way from work
into djellabas, the smell
of restaurants into kuskus
on market day,
hands all out, stretched
to acknowledge this gift
of walking in the shadow
of African people,
with their fear of anchored boats
on coastal fronts. History
is in the present. On
a young night that is day
I go inland where spear battles musket,
and I join in the fight on the river
that filled with blood, our phagocyte
impi sieging their laager in anger.
On the metro of the morning,
Le Monde in my hands and
work on my mind, there’s always
a part of Africa that yearns
for me, for my presence, my flesh,
beyond the clatter of the train
needling underneath the capital
into the reconciliation of our lifetime,
before the evening of my days.

-all poems previously published in blog Poefrika


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