[for morgan tsvangirai]
“at 65 we don’t die, we become soft rain falling to nurture the ground.”
– my mother
we all wear death like a diamond jewel in the chest of our souls,
like birds wear music on the freedom of their throats,
we smell of a concoct of water and clay because that’s
the scent of human beginning and end,
we come from clay and water. as angels we shall fly home
and return to our maker as strong brown dust,
even when rain falls and the sun comes,
some flowers never make it,
finally light has drowned in the darkness of your eyes,
darkness wears the silence of your lips like the edges
of a mountain cave at night,
the ancestors have called you home, to make of your
light eternal darkness, warriors don’t die, they rest,
you just took drunken footsteps to hide where smiles
are flowers and stars, you went to meet origin where
all men were made like the making of soft rain,
rest like the quiet drops of soft rain comrade.
the night you died clouds broke into silence,
and wrapped you in-between the silence of their wings,
just to take you home, the news reported that cancer
wrecked your soul until your flesh gave in.
i heard that zimbawe will spend its soft days drawing your
revolutionary face, trying to trace the origin of your
coarse fingers. just to understand how you managed
the fight for that long. your death has covered the smiles
of sunflowers with tears.
roses will forever sing the lyrics of your revolution,
because he who forgets history is bound to repeat it.
did you know that today we admire how birds sing
sad songs with the beauty of the scars you left behind.
did you know that soon our fingers will taste the
freedom of a ballot box?
i am asking all this in fear because democracy
has never been good to us.
i am asking all this in shame because cancer
robbed us a buffalo.
rest like soft rain in your eternal sleep comrade.
because to lose your tongue is better than losing
your revolutionary lyrics.
to lose your sight is better than losing your vision.
to lose your legs is better than betraying the long walk to freedom.
now tighten your grip because it is a long ride to home.
fly with caution, don’t break your wings, one day you will need
them to come back.
now because you are already gone, tell me comrade:
are we not allowed to kill the messenger if the message is distorted.
are we not allowed to defy the word if it is misspelled.
or must we die for a revolution that’s already bleeding
to death. or must we carry on with our lies and swear under
oath we are fit to hold office even when our bellies speaks a
Keketso Mashigo is a poet, co-author of an essays anthology: Shadows of Their Mothers, short story writer, and freelance journalist, he is a book reviewer at Pulp Review, translator and researcher at Oral History of South Africa. His work appeared on different publications. Keketso writes in the rural Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanaga, South Africa.