Two Poems

by Rethabile Masilo

The Horses

Those people did come in bakkies, four
perhaps, out of the west. When one of the men
came over, and touched our manes
with his hand, our mother rippled.
We had been taught to never neigh.
When one fine day a neighbour beat us
for eating his best beets and lettuces,
even then we only bit our lips and let air
ruffle our hair in his face while he struck.
But these men here spoke a language
we didn’t know. Father stood on his hind legs
and bared his teeth at them. And even
at that dark hour, with the stars watching,
mother walked over to our youngest, swished
flies off his face with her tail, then spun around
to face those men again. No one neighed.
Not even when the shooting began.

Kingdom of Weeds

The sea has a host of new angels,
not ten miles off the Libyan coast where the boat sank,
ferrying men in its heart as time carries fate,
and drops them, with the living, on rocks the shore
has prepared for them.

Last night there were voices there,
of lives being changed, those who made it
becoming dead also, to hold their breath
at the bottom and not ever be able to tell their story
to fishermen who talk with waves at night, never explain
how in a dinghy a child is calmed by giving it urine to drink.
They know gods and goddesses of the seabed, now,
who dwell beside Poseidon in his realm of weeds.

Image: Death Certificate provided by the author