13 June 2019

On edge, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

All day long the dogs barked—even after the moon
had disappeared behind its turn at the back of a cloud,
and no sun had appeared, and it was like the first days
when dust hangs above us after we have put the planet
in a rage over what we do—those dogs kept barking
all day long. Our afternoon stood on the toes of an age
awhile, pondering the likelihood of a next step. No one
was afraid, but the sky was full of butterflies fleeing, even
as neighbours cried through the stone walls of their home,
two voices in a thirty-plus-year marriage gone awry.
All afternoon the children played doctor behind the shed
and I could hear them giggling and sharing specifics of smells
from their small, reconnoitring fingers, as all afternoon
the storm waited with bated teeth, till at the entrance
to evening it broke. I stubbed out my cigarette, yelled
to the kids to come the hell inside and leave the dogs
out among themselves and the moon, stars, the clouds,
so they could finish making heavenly decisions about
our lives once and for all, and enable love to pick up
where it had left off—make you come back to me
to quiet the dogs, and quell this fear welling up in me.

First appeared in New Contrast 185, vol. 47, Autumn 2019

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