(for Mikateko Mbambo)
Before the drugs, there was me, just me,
catharsis autumn-eyed, the image of winter
behind me. Pain dispersed, breaking like
the waves of the sea, and I found the recovery
I yearned for in the shade. I was committed
to the actuality of speed, eating cold plums,
the branches of repentance, to making brown
figures out of clay. I went through a window,
it turned spring out, and I was surrounded
by light years of wildflowers. I went walking
and found Amsterdam on a Saturday. I died
and found the bird, roses in a hole in the wall.
I ate chicken from the bone with my fingers.
My heart has known sons and despair. The
apples protect me tirelessly in their fashion.
You’re a pond filled with dust to the brim of it.
Give my tears some room. Journey through
the day. You’re metaphysical. Metaphysics spilling
out of your pain, abundance of greenness lost
in translation. I’m the innocent and lonely one
shadowing this vast earth, alongside the singing
lark of a psychiatrist, the connected doctors
with their mute comprehension. There’s salt on
the moon. I’m living like a spitfire cloud, as if
I’m part of the sun or a novel’s tender protagonist,
the industry of Ben Okri, the verse of Mongane
Serote that howls inside my head, the music
that Mikateko Mbambo brings to her craft, that
speaks to me, my soul and my defeatism.
In my bare feet, I got you, religion, even though
I don’t know you at all. You’re opera in the
wilderness. See the tragedy in my eyes, mother.
I ponder the hush, the inner music of the shore.
I’m always seeing the same shore. It came from
childhood. Perhaps, this is a tribute, my tribute
to pain. I can still smile, as judgement calls upon
me. Mother, you’re morning. You’re my joy.