19 September 2019

Pickaxe, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

There was a time when blood was not necessary,
and a man could work a pickaxe into terrain
cracked into clods by drought,
bleeding nothing of its body but paving for rain,
digging, going home in the evening with arms
tired from swinging and striking dirt.

Today we walk up and down waiting for rain
that never comes, hands down. Soil never dies.
Something always gives it a new beginning,
whether it’s early in the continuum of life or late.
Earth finds a way; the sprig of a black-face song
in its teeth, pushing demise back to its knees.

Something of an older man chirps below a window
at a manor inside which life is asleep. He stands
before a crowd with his painless head,
bent on letting death know its death is near.
You can tell his grip is firm, and when the pickaxe
flashes, the crowd stands back, holding its breath.

He is the father of many, the father of the son
and grandson they came for and took away. His wife
still goes to the well in the morning, when spring water
is still and it is not yet time for anyone else
to get up and prepare the day—and life is quiet.
Until a sun shines its meaning on them.

From https://tiny.cc/tgh6qz

Ben Masilo
Photo of Benjamin Masilonyane Masilo

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