18 July 2019

My mother says she sees him, by Rethabile Masilo

She said, "I see him outside
in that area beyond the house." Must
have been the yellow in her eyes.
She has had time since he left
to scrub them into clear marbles,
and let saltwater rub them clean.
When we were young she used
to see into our childish dreams
with them, in the unforgiving dark.
He stands there bent at the waist,
refusing to crack or to break;
she describes his teeth, clenched
around prey like a beast sinews
in its prison a wriggling body,
in the dim light there beside the door.
She sees this with her marbles.
They couldn't break him when
they hauled him off in cuffs,
after searching our house
and bringing years of our ceiling
down. They wouldn't break him
years later when they refused us
the body of his son they had killed.
He holds this in the mouth between
his teeth, in memory of those days.
After the storm he came back,
built muscles onto his limbs,
arms, legs, the trunk of his neck.
Nothing inhuman or abstract
but an annual ring each year
added to his bark—built roots
the way icicles grow with each
new drop and creep into years
and into harsh thoughts of life.
When the frozen months arrived
he dug into them; it made him live,
made him get back to hoeing
the country of his youth, a plot
of Qoaling where people, like
sequoia trees, tower over the roof
of a forest and care for its soul.



Lapeng

4 comments:

Unknown said...

This poem brought tears to my eyes.

Rethabile said...

That is a very kind comment. Thank you.

Kay Cooke said...

Wow. A strong and wonderful poem.

Rethabile said...

Thank you, Kay

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