9 February 2019

If Trayvon had been a girl, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

Her Skittles rattled in their packet as she ran
from the fate of what was chasing the colour
of the skin on her face, feet, legs and torso.
She ran from the drone of the car following her,
the sound of the Skittles like marbles in a child’s bag—
marimbas played by black troupes on a summer day.
There was a mood to the air that night, mingled
with the silence of the street and the sombre light
of evening. Her hood flew off from her head
but she ran on, with images of Jesse Owens
and Carl Lewis flowering in her mind, until she felt
two strong hands on her shoulders slow her flight
and bring her down, right into the eyes of a man
with a hard gun and nothing else, no smile, no face
no benevolence and not a word—nothing—no
person in the hunk straddling her. He pinned her
down on the soft grass growing off the hard turf,
lifted her dress, and forced his gun into her.
When she closed her eyes she found herself
in her mother’s garden in a land of plenty, voices
chanting something pleasant but unintelligible,
blue and red lights flashing all around the place,
giving the feeling that there was a multi-coloured
sun free in the sky. The metal trolley with wheels
on which she was took every memory and sensation
of the past few minutes with her into the van,
whose siren wept ineptly, like the Skittles song
still playing on a loop in her mind. She longed for
a minute of silence, and no pain between the thighs.


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