THE STONES OF MOHOKARE
We picked flint for its flatness
and curled thumb and forefinger round it,
then bent at the waist to almost touch
the yellow carpet of shoeshoe blossom
covering most of the moist turf with colouring,
and flicked from the wrist. The trick was
to send the stone flying on the water’s surface
at some angle from nought to forty-five,
like the prow of a proud ship,
and unbend only after releasing the stone,
seeing it hover like a craft on a bumpy sea, only
to stop and anchor at port on the OFS side of the river
that separates our two countries, and fattens
the land that is boundary, as south-west it flows,
to Bethulie and the ocean, where all life goes.
Sometimes we swam across it, late in summer,
when the white farmer’s trees were so heavy
with peach and appelkoos that their fronds
dusted the ground like farm hands,
the deep brick of the fruit telling us
which tree was ripe; or, pulled by a fragrance
that sometimes hit as we walked behind
from where a breeze was coming, we knew.
We broke whole branches off and used them
as rafts on the way back, starting to eat
still on the run, in the mid-river sun.
The beet-faced farmer always burst from his huis
in anger, and trained a rifle on us, as we made off
into the river with the loot. But no shot ever came.
Maybe he had no faith in apartheid. Perhaps
the theft and hover-crafts linked our worlds,
our peoples, living the destiny of the river.
© Rethabile Masilo
MY FATHER’S KILLERS
They take to the road at midnight, and turn
Toward land that by right we plough and turn.
Their dark convoy passes white-washed houses.
A brake light: the bakkies slow down, and turn.
They park at right angles to the street,
Light the yard up, it’s daddy’s day and turn.
They have come on a crisp September night
To blight us, make our season change and turn.
The moon shimmers its flashlight on a blade
While, from a height, the planets spin and turn.
© Rethabile Masilo