8 October 2019

Ars poetica, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

During a separate hour one accepts words,
as after a betrayal, and lives them.
There will be questions with no answers
for the day will be funereal. Once they kill a child
you understand the babble of a three-year old.
Name that time Babel. Let his mother’s wails
drown you, then add her cries to the child’s.

Get turned into a fist; at first, in apartheid jails.
Pielkop! Become a dog. Kaffir! Gaan fok jouself!
In exile, beg yourself for release from the dungeon
where you put yourself, hoping to starve and die.
When you don’t, a book will write itself;
rise from it, unafraid to face what it tells the world.
Read from it for the echo in your one ear, in order
that you may grow a scab over your wounds.

Photo by Sabine Dundure

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