Tonight we are not going to sleep, we are going to
jump into bed with our shoes, and continue to walk
in our dreams. You on the paper writing poems, me
behind the paper reading poems. We will do this
together, exactly the way lovers make a baby together.
Before a pen — a prayer: before a pen — a poem: before
a pen — a song: before a pen — a story: Such energy: fire
from a piece of paper.
The wind is whistling, so wear as your scarf the arm of
your lover round your neck: once more the bed brings
closer the sweethearts to share one pillow. The wind
sings, the bed sings, the song of the lovers.
Death is a street where all the lamplights are broken.
There are no voices other than the sound of a cloud
that is about to break into pieces of teardrops. The
lightning, whose smile is just a fire. That’s how you see
your hole inside the skull of the soil.
Today I’m face to face with death, I feel more drowsy
than ever on earth. My eyebrows are heavy, I don’t
know when they gained so much weight. Because
with these twin eyes I still want to see the light, exactly
equal to the way my eyelids want to cover my eyes.
A naked bone which is still thinking about what to
wear for the day. A bone which has no shoes, an
injured bone which recently lost its legs: the powerless
child of an animal. Still they are standing to finish it
with stones and hammers, to break into its holy house
and steal its only life, its marrow.
I don’t think it is too late. We can still be together in
this night. We can make the fire, see each other’s faces.
The moon is high but its touch shines on us. We can’t
play with that, it’s too sacred to throw on the ground.
Every day, wearing the clothes of a prickly pear, I
ask myself when I got these thorns that fly out of my
mouth every time I say a word. Is this the language
a poet should have on his tongue? To swear so much
that he disappears from anger?
I believe one drop of God’s sweat can make one drunk,
after his hard work of creating the world. You can feel
from the fermented grape what made him drunk when
He was creating the drunkards.
The sky looks so sad today. I don’t know why, whether
it’s because God is punishing angels in heaven or
because of the sins we continue to caress with our
holy hands. The sky is black, black like a crow on the
crossbar of an electrical pole, sensing there will be
some dead meat soon on its plate of tar.
It was beautiful last night, I ran my fingers through
your soul with my palm facing the ground. You were
soft like flour, rough like salt crystals when water
evaporates, when I was caressing your billion particles
of dust and life. Earth, my only bed of soil – I just want
to sleep on you, with my ear to the sound of your heart
between your breasts.
The fig gets all its lessons from the weather. It goes
through the university wearing a green gown. Through
long lessons it gets the hips of a woman. The fig learns
to master its walk while it is still hanging from the
branch of a tree. Through the levels of the institution, it
goes around wearing a red gown with a yellow hat, or
a yellow gown with a red hat. But the life of the fig is
for birds and human beings.
A nest has only one room, no private room for
meetings or lovers. It has no kitchen to cook
mushrooms, no bathrooms to bathe the young. But it
has a veranda to view the world from. A queen-sized
bed of feathers and grass, it is full of music for the
pink feet of birds to dance on.
I have never been happy in my life. With scars on my
soul, I trace back footprints from my present size seven
to the unknown size of my woollen baby shoes. I hold
a meeting with the fig tree which once dislocated my
elbow. I ask the rusted nail of the fence which once
pulled me down by the turn-up of my trouser leg,
why it broke my wrist in the middle of the night in my
Little by little: maybe that’s how I was made. The sand
is piling up before my eyes, making sculptures from
the hands of the wind — with shells for eyes. God, your
breath goes a long way gathering particles to build
lives. One breath, a thousand human beings; one blow,
a thousand graves.
Mangaliso Buzani’s a naked bone is published by Deep South