Two poems by Rethabile Masilo

Flesh and blood

One is very crazy when one is in love
—Sigmund Freud

Tiananmen. A monk’s body burns—his tunic
is one of the flames. A stone leaps into the air
and flaps its wings above the square. Here
it is Sunday again. I clean the transept
and the nave, after the meal, in suds scrub
the chalice and plate with a green-backed sponge,

then rinse them in the sink by the wall,
before wiping them off and putting them
upside down on the rack the abbot and you
bought for last year’s Christmas service.
You eat God’s flesh. Your tongue tastes wine.
After the sun in your eyes has set, I go home.

~ ~ ~

—for my brother, Khotsofalang

But how to paint the love of dead men like Cezanne paints
a mountain, makes it rise without growing, and leaves it there,
coherent and complete? Here, in the highlands of Quthing,
mountains sit like old women with moist eyes: Cezanne,
at the time his hand trembled with experience, set them
here. They know something I don’t, these old, mother
mountains. But how is the question framed that gets them
to say whether they’re sitting on your corpse, the body
we did not find? Until that day their grey look will smile
endlessly, till I find words to engrave a poem
on the boy’s stone where we wrote your name too
after they had refused to give us your bones,
and we stood on the dawn of what had happened to you.

  • Rethabile Masilo was born in Lesotho and lives in Paris, France. He has published three volumes of poetry, Things That Are Silent (Pindrop, 2012), Waslap (Onslaught, 2015; winner of 2016 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry), and Letter To Country (Canopic Publishing, 2016). He has also co-edited two Onslaught Press anthologies. Click here for more information.

© Rethabile Masilo, 2017

Image: Jorge Gordo/Unsplash

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