26 March 2013

The Boy Who Would Die

The bedroom was a shallow grave.
Perhaps the opinion of the men who came,
or of the wardrobe in that room in which a woman hid.
In any case, there was a burial in that room.
Decked in bright pyjamas he slept
as bullets hunted his body,
entered the linoleum under the bed.
Men he did not know
in a house on a hill like a staircase—
from the grave you climbed to the sitting room
whose Cyclops window looked at the world,
the reason perhaps for such an act for which there was no wake,
then further up to the tin-stove kitchen
that stood above the rest, in which in winter
we sang around a pot on the stove—
if not for the outhouse some metres into the hill
the kitchen was the highest place of the house,
the closest thing to heaven we had.
No dog dared bark that night.
We lived on that hill and it lived in us, in rocks
carved out of boulders and chiselled
into bricks by able hands of noble men.
He died at the edge of his dream, a potted plant
on a winter sill, aged three, died for us;
and from then on all poems would end thus.

~for Motlatsi Masilo

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