by Bénédicte Kusendila

The sheets hung out to sweet perfection,
the bed covered by a quilt of hearts.
It is okay to be girly again,
to foreshow what I want.

The drunken dance of welcoming tourists;
they’re already my friends. The psalm of
the classy suit shouting, “I don’t know! I don’t know!”
in the street, in his mobile phone.

Wondering, wondering
where you would be and what are you doing.
It is okay to stay calm and sober.
It has been heaven and hell, learning to listen.

The panic of sharply familiar faces
with question marks for names.
The strength of memories we experienced,
which I always preached could never be stolen.

The hands clapping for the young will soon
fold in prayer. Tom is lying in the sun;
these days, Tom has grown
braver. Tom leaves Jerry to his mousy own.

The wise words about not plucking the flower
you love, how it will die. The advice on plucking flowers:
how to enjoy them for months after you have left them
to dry in a little water. What about

the verses we keep reciting,
our happiness for the ancient language
that I should not have dreamt up to Now,
the tightrope which binds us

to a promise that never changed.
How much letting go before it rhymes
with the rhythm of my breathing
that I do not ever want to unsay your name.


Bénédicte Kusendila was a member of the South-African Afrikaans Writers Guild (“Afrikaanse Skrywersvereniging”). She received an M.A. in Germanic Languages, English and Applied Linguistics, from the Catholic University of Louvain and holds an M.Phil-degree in Education and Applied Language Studies from the University of Cape Town. Recently, a couple of her poems were published in Extract(s) and Gravel Magazine: A Literary Journal. Another one is forthcoming in Aji Magazine.

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