12 June 2018

A boy's forehead; or xenophobia 101, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

Fresh from a forehead
is flesh that feeds the assegai
of nationhood; he will die
by these arms we bear, that bit
of foreignness next door;
I will kill his tongue
which has acquired the favour
of our jobs. This lekoerekoere,
this boy, this migrant who
must die. Our impi at dawn
puts a blaze on them to disable
the movement of their thought.
The ground under our feet
holds us up and does nothing
to stop us. The glass buildings
of Johannesburg stare
without a word. The boy looks
at me, but I forgot all pity
at home.The hole on his head
is like it has been scooped out
with a watermelon baller;
blood dribbles down his face,
leaves hæmoglobin in his mouth
with an aftertaste of iron.
South Africans who fled
apartheid into our countries
and went home when it was
finished are the bright
green stuff found on copper
that has started to corrode.
The copper is their country.
All afternoon we hacked,
and put tyre necklaces
on some and lit them
with Lion safety matches.

(18 April 2015)



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