A Poem By Rethabile Masilo

January 13, 2024
1 min read

By Rethabile Masilo
Thursday, July 24, 2008.
When his voice hit the audience,breaking to pieces the only peace we knewand were sharing among barbed houses on a hill,it sent birds off to where startled shards go,his voice the thing we’d soughtto shake our poetry, make sense of the worldthe way a bullet never will.
A shipment of negroesleaves the shore and is forever goneto render music unto the world,win an Olympic with a half a nutrition.In a dire dance of the last dama, they movelike sirige masks among cotton fields.Still, his voice beckons. A tap rootfills my mouth completely, floor to roof.The first time I heard him I thought it was a mistake–this ideal he was preparing to die for,but it was in his voice, carried to my doorby the choice of an ordeal, joined by othersfrom far inland into the Maloti mountains,where between seasons of cold and hot,snow and sun shuffle the light.
In the chill of night when the wind is still,the island whispers thoughts of ghosts,in nomine Patris et Fillii et Spiritus Sancti,in a voice like the one I took at Peka High Schoolfor the year-end show when, dressed for war,and having rubbed the struggle into my hair,my father watching from the front row,we marched on-stage, and I began withthe words our people had stated in Kliptown:South Africa belongs to all who live in it.
© Rethabile Masilo
Rethabile Masilo is a Basotho writer and poet. She blogs at Blacklooks and at Sotho.
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