by You Have My Word

A spoken word piece I performed at the end of last year – a lament for South Africa.

africa mother and baby

I feel like a mother when I think of you. Although I did not give birth to you – screaming tantrum arms and legs in a delivery room – and although I wasn’t there from the start, I love you deeply child. I want to hold you and protect you and fight off anyone that even comes close. But there are gun shots and lines of coke between us. There’s enough fighting and people dying that makes me think maybe I should let them get to you… to us.

I pray – scraped knees kiss bed-foot floor – that you aren’t shot up with drugs, or metal slugs from guns of another mother’s hand-reared thugs. They are sons too, killing sons like they have nothing left to lose. And everything is on the line somewhere between the pillars of strength you look up to and the stacks of booze that line your stomach and cloud your mind and blur your judgement and now your little sister’s crying, because a violent fist-chase can never be erased.

It’s a race to put notches in belts and chips on shoulders and people in places that can never be traced. I want to wipe your eyes of tears but I’ll only leave smears of evidence that there is so much pain across your face. After all you’ve been through, nation, weep. Weep like a mother whose son doesn’t come home. Weep, country, for an unreachable hope.

I feel like a mother when I did my best to raise you as a prince. Now I rinse my hands of you. I want to be there for you but I can’t pull you out of what you’re going through. I did what I could to show you truth and you chose to leave anyway. We have toiled and turned the soil upon which we built our futures – your land my love. No I crumble to dust when I think of the hands that have sown death to creep up while it’s dark out to suck life out of fertilised earth – killing nourished, life-giving dirt. Nothing will grow when we poison the ground on which we walk, when we have at opportunity like we’re trying to carve a masterpiece with a pitchfork.

I don’t need you to tell me stories of how you’ve lived your day to know that there is murder and illiteracy and aids and theft and treason and strife and rape and divorce and homeless and racism and pain. I simply take a walk down the battered streets of memory lane littered with bottles, and blood blood of wrong choices made where no one gets out alive, no one gets saved.

Vomit quick, slick move, chew at the quick! I wish you’d throw up your heart with the contents of your stomach so people can see how sick you really are; you’re obscene. Like someone’s strung out your spleen to find your soul and they’ve found it full of wound holes. Sores that can’t be plugged with bandages or hugs. Gaps so wide it’d take an ocean to fill one corner of. You are damaged goods and you cannot be returned to the nowhere you’ve already come from. You are here.

I feel like a mother and I long for yesterday’s. It could have been better, it could have been a different way.