4 January 2020

Red, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

—for Mahlomola Motuba

The past years of Lesotho have been a soar
in crops against the hope of opportunity: red chillies
and beets, plums, heirloom tomatoes and tart cherries,
dying to imitate Blood; in the high hills where our soul is,
fruit is crushed and made to run down slopes of open wounds
like liquid from the seso of Mokema, and that of Qoaling,
and Morija, and Sehlabeng and everywhere you look
where fruitlets are plucked before maturity; reddening fruit
split in Siloe, ripening raspberries and berberis
slit; fruit still on their branches meeting death,
red the colour of severity.
A soldier’s boot crushes the currant of a national heart,
dances on tayberries and kharenate and, in a final act of contempt,
guts every khunoane, ponaponana, mabelebele.
Nobody says or does anything.
Red may be the uppermost arc of the rainbow,
it is also the colour you lose sight of first at dusk,
when danger looms and you see red,
that pigment living under your hardening scab.

Folakha ea Lesotho

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