3 November 2019

My mother's calendar, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

We have learned to abide by our mother’s language
and by her calendar, when we’re in her presence.
Every time she mentions him it’s to relate a part of life
to the years when he was with us. Old… has become…
when your father was alive, and some of us have begun
to speak like her too, the same way we began
to love people after observing her. Now… is… since he
died, and we even hear what she does not dare say:…
and left me behind. Our mother looks like her mother
and my sisters look like her. The boys in my family
all look like each other, and yearn to take after him.
In the future…, or... soon…, is fast becoming…
the day I am with your father and you are free at last,
even though she set us free at birth just after she had handed
each of us to the midwife for cleaning, and we had been
returned to her arms for the first breakfast of our lives.

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