25 May 2020

Giving the body, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

Here is why this body which I swear to you by
is filled with fluids of nature: when at night
I start across the fields to carry it to you,
darkness throws a type of light before me,
and I step in it like one walking on a moon.
My feet march with that brightness to bring
to you this body, which incorporates me,
and helps me flesh truth out of such longing.
I have hung bangles on its wrists, rings
on both its lobes, have pierced each nipple
with safety pins from a box in the sewing room
where a godmother sutures people with an old
Singer, though I wonder sometimes, as I walk,
about things like ankles or knees, which can turn
the path of love into that of war. There’s something
to be said about the meaning of short, feisty wars,
fought for love of self, and not for love itself.
All my life has been a mask to ward such evil off,
as I walk like a world with headlamps meant
to shine on people like you, and offer the body
with both hands back to yourself, lest love
turn into quarrels of guardianship, before we can
lie back, rest, and think only of what is left of us.

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