12 February 2020

The old man and the tea, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

Every day when I greet age at my door,
and it drags itself behind me,
its breath of tobacco penetrates my curtain
cloths and the seats along the curve of my mind,
and I feel old again, as on the street outside
tree leaves turn in for the night.

I brew tea to rinse my teeth
like a river moving slush from one country
to another
and to the ocean. Then I wash the street
off my feet with salving water
after a dinner I usually fix days before
and stash in boxes under my bed,
like one who sleeps on sustenance.

Till night wakes me even as I begin to fall asleep,
noises from the street of music commanding youths
to drink and fight. I have no idea what one day
they will suffer, except there’ll be no food under their beds
to feed their bones. No hut to keep what they have yet to know.

How I'd like to be a star right now, nestled
among burgeoning, blinking formations of life,
every day emptying my guts into the void of creation.

Photo by Dominick Tyler

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