My Countrymen – Kelwyn Sole

My Countrymen

As our treacherous land spins now
away from the sun, and a carpet of stars
descends on the cold floor
of winter

we, separately, yawn
brush our teeth with the defence budget
and go to bed without each other -
the Magopa patriarch flung at Pachsdraai
a clod of crumbled soil;
the cleaner who’ll climb the skyscraper night
now cooks her husband’s supper
already sick with tiredness

and old and powerful men
sucking their thumbs in sleep, one hand curled
round the cuddlesome security of the Nkomati Accord,
faces blissful

and the rest of us

the many lessons we haven’t learnt
the courageous stands we never took
the synapse between pain and knowledge
of ourselves, our nerve ends bathed
in acetylcholine and history

where fate plays roulette with our skins
(but we daren’t call it russian)

my countrymen

of the homespun hopeful visions
we wear as underwear this season

our night has come again

– Kelwyn Sole, The Blood of Our Silence, 1987

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