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Two poems by David wa Maahlamela

Mr Plumber’s wife


Plumber’s wife works in sky fingering offices, her manicured fingers conversing with a computer for seven hours. English sprints out her mouth as if it was born there, as if she was not living in a backyard township room, catching a taxi at Bree taxi rank.

It was her husband, Mr Plumber, who insisted she was not going to rust brown at home and end up reciting the first names of every cat and dog in the township. Now Mr Plumber
wanted to be more than a sheer artisan, but circumstances nailed his skin to spanners.

Someone else could have bought a better car with the crumbs he called salary, but not Mr Plumber. He took his wife to varsity to pursue business studies and so avoid being roasted by the sun like himself, or unclogging drains blocked by condoms and sanitary towels.

Now his community gives Mr Plumber green eyes because his family affords KFC barrel every weekend. But what they do not know is that Mr Plumber’s wife scaffolds her voice over his, tears him apart before the kids, calling his salary ‘moneybox’

Their bedroom’s lost its sauce. She says Mr Plumber’s sandpaper palms scratch her skin.
Mr Plumber’s wife has scheduled feelings. When her capricious season arrives, Mr Plumber is allowed to nibble, but not devour. A mere sampling, just enough to tick the contract.


In the Awful Sight of Beauty


We met in the cold town of cathedrals, donkey carts, dogs, and monuments.
Your maidens-scattering splendor, a honeyed spell that prostrated my heart.
That awful sight of beauty, an inundated delight that surpassed all splendor.
Your olive skin, pride-inflating gleam, my lantern lighting the caves of my depth.

Bed-wetting lads, teeth-gnashing warriors, wished they were winged like us.
Lads and birds of this ghostly town which grows wings only in ghastly winter.
This one-street town whiplashing with hourly bells defiling nocturnal respite.
This deep south town, purple valley of a botanical garden’s misbehaving birds.

Yes, we met in the ascent of uncountable hills abandoned by settlers.
And since then, like spoilt brats, our lives never stopped descending.
We met where leaders learn, we taught life how to retune its broken hallelujah.
Like mountain springs, ours was not to entertain, but to settle life-long debts