The wind calls from the corners of the house,
Carrying dreams to distant hills,
In sleep, I sensed the owl
And heard the tall trees
talking in the dark.
When we were younger,
We caught the early bus
To small towns
And at the end,
We slow danced with the echoes:
Last songs in school halls.
I heard a taxi hit her.
And the driver ran away.
the unasked slips
across the road with the shattered glass –
Because she was still small to me.
Now her unhurt face
Between my palms, at least
That I have, but nothing else.
The black shoe, back there,
beyond the yellow tape,
a solitary full stop.
(For Thulani Mtshali, whose 14 year old daughter died after being struck by a mini bus taxi on 6 March 2019).
That was me!
And looks around the darkened hall,
the ghost has not remained
back there, the voice
it travels through the wires,
like the years.
And so I cry.
Look! There’s Liliesleaf!
But no one sees.
I was alone
I held my place,
on a wall
But we have children now so
Our past is no longer ours alone,
And outside, the years float
A cork in the water, my hate
Dissolves with the anger in my pocket.
Then later, I drive in the car,
The lamp is no longer hidden,
And I kept on waving,
My hand like light,
Like the air.
(based on the story told by Mr Alwinus Ndodiphela Mralasi to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa)
When I was young, sometimes
we rode the trains overnight
to new houses,
riding a rough disjointed shaft,
rumbling deep into the night.
And in the spaces:
like strange vessels seen from a distance
sailing some dark and blackened ocean.
Dirty yellow stations,
words behind the shuttered windows
asleep in rough blankets
am carried across the shores of memory
toward the vast and orange expanse
We watched you sleep,
The hand of God outstretched,
But in the end,
The sin and shame of your decay
was never yours to hold.
And when the Angel came,
You turned your face to the wall
And you left.
And Silas spoke then turned his face away,
As if perchance to see,
The hidden truth.
But Silas we,
We’ve seen it there,
Lurking just beyond the edge of light,
Shifting through the shadows,
So Silas sits upon his plastic chair,
Waiting for the Angel,
And his miraculous escape.
I saw the clouds run like water,
Like a river, thick and fast, felt
The wind pull the currents, tugging
At the edges and twisting eddies
Across the sky.
The dream held,
At least for a while,
Then was lost in the swirling traffic,
Miles above the freeway.
“The voices in my head are shadows, shadows
She comes to me, to tell me what they’re after
Says it ain’t the end boy but you best be careful, careful
Might catch your tail end in a circle, circle”
- With thanks to Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros (Child)