Here we are bubbling beings,
In this small space we call home.
The corrugated iron and newspaper we have fashioned into comfort,
Comforts us with our privacy,
And fashions a place where we make sense.
Out there in the world there is no room for this girl and boy
But here you are my king-queen and I am your squire.
In the present past they would have called you Modjadji
And I would have called you mine. Every night. Mine with devotion.
In this present people stare as we walk past.
You are brave by being you,
Criminally you create the spaces you navigate,
Stealthily you dismiss those malevolent stares,
You are stealing time for us and
I know it.
Your bandages bind you together with
A space ravaged by the wounds of a body not quite right
And a person not quite clear on how to be more clear.
I would hide you to save you,
Cloak you and refuse to say sthandwa sami,
I would deny you, to my grave and from yours.
But that would already be death.
In your arms I would remember the legends.
Stories of the women who had wives
and the men who could bear children,
But in these nows there are no tales for us.
As you lay there, still and silently cold
Your rough hands and butter skin plead for my bravery,
While my tears and mouthed goodbyes plead for the past.
We cannot talk anymore,
my devotion cannot reach across time.
Nor can my longing restore you.
I am left with images as memories,
Love smells and smiles,
Searing stares and sneers,
An empty heart in my broken home
And the word “isitabane” reminding me
That this sorrowful song,
ends in death without justice.
And that our poetry was poetic when it was just us.
**A poem in honour of victims and survivors of gender based violence in the lesbian community
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