the language of blood / rooi taal

by Nkateko Masinga

the moon, a sliver of itself tonight,
‘n stuk in a tongue I had to cut out
of my mouth, round and forgiving
once but now riven / fragmented
to reveal a chasm of vocabularies
other than daai een. These words
stumble out of me like drunk men
in reverie, in revelry, in reverence
of what I have become, reverend
of my own ng kerk, a bad religion.

mama still says waslap and buite;
she taught us well, no blasphemy.
of a language languishing, repeat
only the words that injure no one.
a clean tongue is gold, repeat not
what was said. forgive them baba
they know not what they do. take
the high road, replete with marvel:
the moon is full tonight, blemished
and bleeding into a forgiving black.

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