Today is World Poetry Day and it’s also Human Rights Day in South Africa so our first guest post seems appropriate. Thabo Malesa is in his twenties and lives here in Soshanguve. He has been involved with InnerCHANGE South Africa since the beginning and is one of our local leaders. He is a gifted poet and we’re grateful that he has chosen to share this piece with us.
It seems that there are few angels left in this township
Just birds that have been told that their wings are not strong enough
To lift them above the land on which they stand.
It seems ninety percent of the stars on this side of town have fallen
And the other ten seem displaced.
It seems the sun has lost its shine
It no longer believes that it too is a star
That it belongs in the sky and it can be looked up to too.
My township is despair.
It is a hopelessness that can be smelled.
The grass is slowly wilting
And it, along with the garbage in our streets gets suspended in air from time to time.
It’s all flying to faraway places.
It seems everything is looking for a way out of this place.
My township is a beautiful art gallery
It’s full of family portraits…all missing a frame and a father figure.
My township is a concert featuring pregnant teenage dancers
And they dance off rhythm to the footsteps of boys
Who were trained to run away from the responsibility of fatherhood.
My township is an abused city girl
She has eyes that are bruised like rotten fruit
And extension cord cuts on her back.
She tries to hide it, so she wears make up
But if you look closely, you will see all the cracks in her foundation.
She is broken inside.
Her neck is always right next to mine and she tells me that she is tired of being ugly
She says she’s tired of the disgraceful stares
And the constant mouthful touts she endures.
Her happiness is trapped in the basement of her self-esteem
And her pride is indigent
She drowns herself in alcohol and drugs hoping to ease her pain but that never helps.
She has crime stamped on her back
And she walks around with broken handcuffs still dangling on her wrists.
But you see, despite her flaws…
Despite our differences, she’s still mine and I know that in time
She will come alright and she will thank me for not giving up on her
For loving her unconditionally from the day my feet stepped on her belly
For wiping off all of her sweat, along with the tears that were running down her neck.
I often grab her by the handcuff on her left wrist and tell her that no one escapes history
That every city in the world has her own scars and hers are not any special
I Hugged her and whispered “I love you” in her ear
She smiled and her hope seemed all the more revived
And I thought to myself “perhaps her scars would not have been so deep if she was truly loved by those who possess her”