Noah’s Ark & Other Poems

Linda Masilela

Noah’s Ark

The hues of a dark night
Are melting beneath
The heavy hues of August winds.
Our shack coughs
Rattling its innards
To prove that it too lives.
The corrugated iron has holes in it
In times like these we peep into heaven(outside).
To see how home will look if we die.
The stove is as old as time.
The smoke bellows upwards
Then disappears
As if God has finally accepted our offerings.
Cain lives inside us
Instead of murdering our own
We use these proverbial daggers to slash
Debris left by the aftermath of a hopeless wish.
Hope fastened by our cupped hands
Knees teeming with dust particles.
We have prayed for so long
Our marrow has alchemised into rust.
The shack still stands, heavily breathing.
Despair bleeding from our palms.
Water slowly cleaving every nail and wood.
Soon what we call a home
Will be nothing but a deluged casket.
But we are up
And everything is as dry as bone,
We will celebrate
We will know that the water didn’t kill us.
The storm didn’t uproot everything.
We have outlived magic
Today, in this ark, we didn’t disappear.

Block H swimming pool has shown us

that a boy with brittle lungs
cannot hold a breath
                               Nor shield water from
                               Seeping into his chest.
His body; a colony of rivulets
Coarsing his pliant skin.
                               So when he touches water
                               His tendons unfetter
Turn into shards of porcelain.
He shrinks at the sight of water.
                        Becomes a mustard seed.
                               Small. Waiting to be planted.
But this time in a graveyard
Filled with water and no oxygen pumps.
                               On 06/06/2002, he aimed for death.
                               That’s what everyone said.
When a boy with fragile lungs
Attempted to swim.
                               That was suicide. Except
                        It comes with an​
How can this boy play
Jesus? Die in front of us?
                               The pool a crucifix
                               Water nailing him to the pool floor.
Excavating holes on his palms
His breath, spiralling out of his chest.
                                Frail lungs leaking air. Shrieking
                                As if shrapnel was lodged
Adjacent to his alveoli.
Water started to seep through
                                His chest was now smoke
                                Dissipating and void of life.
It is done. The smell of death
Suspended mid air by our gasps.
                                “No persons who have asthma
                                Is allowed to swim here.”
A sign was put up
Outside Block H swimming pool.

Indoda ayikhali

For Lesiba

Of the 13,774 suicides reported in South Africa, 10 861 were men.”

You bury tongue
The wind flips it and turns it into a tide.
Your teeth become wet clothes
You remove them and your palette is petrified
At how naked a mouth can be. 

You don’t speak.
You slit your throat and bury rocks instead of words
They become tombstones
And sink all the decibels.
Erecting silence instead of a scream.

They taught you that silence is golden
A voice is a stone.
A mouth is a haunted place
Ghosts live there and not humans.
You believed. You believed them

Linda Masilela is a writer and medical doctor. His works deal with memory, power, identity and freedom.


*Image by James Qualtrough on Unsplash

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