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Poems by Sphiwe ka Ngwenya

Your melody                                                 Elizabeth Trew


H e y! darkbright poetman sugarman rainman
your melody
pounds the maize and shakes the pot

your melody
bounces on a shock wave
wakes up a battlement
knocks on a lockdoor
hums through a goldchink
blows down a chaingang
taps in a bluesbeat
drums on a rainpipe

your melody
spins by a liftshaft
calls from a highrise to denizens of hillbrow

melody to melody
turning memory to harmony
tuning words of liberty
tender torrentials
hot explosions of the soul
slow lullabies of love


Sihle, the lime-cutter’s daughter             Elizabeth Trew

Sihle! that one hangs her head in shame
to see her mother digging for a living
She is ashamed to see me on the mountain
mining limestone for our income
She is my only daughter, a moody girl
who takes all day to fill a sack of stones
She complains to me her neck is painful
when a sack falls off her head
She also has bad sunburn
so I apply sun lotion
She watches me do everything
with only lotion for protection
She watches me go down the hole
with picks to fetch the stone
She sees me break and beat with sticks
and crush the lime as light as flour
She watches me shape lime to balls as tight as fists
as white as ice and candle wax
She comes to market where the people buy
for toothpaste, glass and body lotion
Sihle is my only one, my everything
but does not like my occupation
She does not see that I am digging for her education
so she will never have to work like this.