DISPLACEMENT: IN MY LITTLE AFRICAN BOAT

IN MY LITTLE AFRICAN BOAT

“I remember that day very well;

Maybe I found something outside these walls

Of mud and clay

Pitied by our brother’s wives,

By their slaves and their children

And their children’s children.

And for something in our return, we were supposed to find the earth’s edge,

Or to follow the trails that were lost

Along the way; All this

While we dropped dusty cloaks in rivers filled with blood,

Running northward, southward, eastward, anywhere

But here. Not here,

But someplace else.

Quietly over the outcrop, we waited – quietly; watched

As the wind carried away our footsteps to one morning after the other

Until the night fell upon us from a different direction.

“Hush” it whistled,

“Hush.”

For those who knew our voices; for those who knew our hearts,

No one had to carry us back home,

From the dim, wasted coarse deserts, having our friends to keep the day’s happenings

In secret diaries – safely from the hands of our lovers! Less is!

Years of pain!

Wax my name in your palm, oh house guard! Amid

The rarest dreams, shafts of dead faces and decaying bones. Grow my name

In your garden, richly in the open fields

Blooming over as I go. Turn my name

Toward the holy mountains where many civil faces will run to; scorned by the pain of night

Wars and healed on the passage of a homeland

With your smiles guiding me here. Heaven is a little way

Over there, with waters marching too lonely and filled

With magic light winging towards you; Un-blind me, oh precious saviour

Till at all ends unknown

Will I have fought in this world. And

Let me know when to stop. Let me know how to love. For now,

Then, all my knowledge has transformed

Through the frosted sea and through the woods,

Where no eye with its pale presence has ever faded into –

Or even deep into the pastures of green; Where no man

Ever called himself great…

Deep in the layers of mist, I could not find

Where that night dwelt upon or deep in the sleeper’s dreams

With his elbows dipped in foggy winters and pallid latitudes –

I could not find anyone. But here comes a second man;

His feet appear flat like the road; His face seems to have no shade, no expression,

No mauls and marks, no fear, no pain, no suffering;

No recurrent drunkenness, no self-pity

And no pride.

As if he knew where to go or where he hurt.

And he says: “Where is home now?”

displacement open call poets corner

Clementine Kganyago

In My Little African Boatis a recollection of the transitory moments in the last days of a soldier. Despite the war, he still had dreams – in a world covered with blood and dust, salute and honor. 

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