15 June 2020

The empty chair, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

I find this chair—in a forest—to which rays direct light,
a chair to the back of which a crow-coloured gamp is fastened,
like a big bat landing, even as whispers keep saying
she is not coming back, from spaces in the deepening woods.
But I am a parent, and I sense a child sitting there, as if
strapped by some blunder of justice to an electric chair,
and as much out of curiosity as from love, I pluck from the air
a first molecule I am able to touch by hand and place it,
and a next, molecule by molecule until inside the going light
I begin to see her nose, then its nostrils, as she breathes in,
and breathes out. Then I form her lips, cheeks, carefully
like someone interlacing yarns and threads into a rug
while almost holding their breath. I glue her together
in that chair and watch her watch me build the rest of her,
until morning arrives, in the daydream of whose promise
pearls of frost cling to her, a girl in sparkling jodhpurs
holding a longe whip, shining in that forest of the world.
But knowing curiosity, and my taste for discovery, I knew
I was going to stay till night with her to craft, out of air,
a semblance of her horse my hands were dying to make.

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