I lived in a land of drought
do not smuggle your stepmother’s shampoo
her hair is lush with water
and your father’s love
her skin – never scrubbed
she grows roses
pretty, greedy and foreign
you are small, untidy, tough
you belong to broken lands like this one.
National University Shutdown, South Africa, October 2015
there was a day like yours once –
the first of a year, with gin and dry lemon, on a green garden patio, when I still ate potatoes
how hungry I was
I didn’t know, then –
Blue dye on voluptuous knees.
A grandmother looks away while a grandson is thrown.
Shopping for nappies for children chased from their homes (and cigarettes for their mothers).
Thank-full when the priests came – surely they will not hate us now?
Tearing blackface posters down, trying to breathe through my breasts.
My voice crawling down my throat to hide in my gut.
Vomiting wheels – my body a small child begging, “Please don’t make me.”
“I’m sorry Granny. I can’t defend your faith here. They will lynch me.”
I gather seashells like men
make a pretty necklace out of them
cavalier, cutting, chaotic
I gather seashells with men
wear colour when I write
timid, taut, territorial
I gather seashells as men
gleaming, guileless. Godly.
Characters in a Psychologist’s Waiting Room
- the Girl with eyes wider than her thighs
- the Boy who keeps his face covered in the hallways – always
- the Woman who sleeps beneath the purple blanket she brings in her bag
- there are no men.