Friday, 31 July 2020

Commandments, by Rethabile Masilo

—for my brother, Khotsofalang

Memory lifts its veil, everybody calls you, 
but no appearance. Once again, I recall 
walking nights with you, touching walls 
toward a light of home’s distance 
lit for those still outside, till that night 
became another day. I remember ten 
childhood commandments, how absent 
loves must be watered and fed with half 
the force of touch and light and tongue, 
and half with a winter of wild surmise. 
Today still the quiet night brings images 
of walking toward that hill of home, 
using darkness as a guide there. Then 
one morning you were gone, on one day 
that took you away, your stature, the right 
non-form of your build—for all was you— 
none of us knew what was coming despite 
what you embody today. What we had not 
realised was that there was no ram tied 
to Abraham’s shrub. Thou shalt not awake 
after dying, thou shalt be willing to refuse 
refuge in the arms of their Lord. You left 
Lesotho the year of your eighteen years 
and we closed our eyes. Grass grew a beard 
on you, and thou shalt ‘get up, stand up’ 
rang the air. These are not on any tablet 
but on the skin of our hearts. Because thou 
shalt not hate nor rape thy neighbour, and 
thou shalt aid people, thou shalt worship 
other Gods beside me. These many years 
afterward you remain needed. Because thou 
shalt never leave loved ones in the lurch.

[ Listen here ]

Khotsofalang and mom

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