Hale Tsehlana

Rookie (22nd June / South African)

Toll Gate Into Africa - Poem by Hale Tsehlana

The night was long and cold.
The same dreams came to me,
deep in my sleep,
suffocating inside the mine shaft,
struggling to escape the nightmare;
only to wake up into another.

See the witches hobbling home
on their broken brooms.
The cock signals, the start of another day
like yesterday. The warm sun does nothing
to chase the nightmares away.
I sleepwalk thru the day.

Since I know this land so well,
maybe I will be a land surveyor,
or perhaps a tourist guide,
or own some vast farmland of my own.

I must stop dreaming; another car comes,
perhaps I can make a sale or two.
Let me fetch my clay cows
and the shimmering stones.
Maybe the tourist wants some souvenirs
and may even dropp a shilling or two.

* inspired by Ingrid de Kok’s poem, ‘Road through Lesotho’ (Familiar Ground, Ravan Press,1988) .
‘But there he is before us
blocking escape
a toll gate into Africa.
His breath grinds dry and hard
he has three clay oxen for sale.’

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Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, June 18, 2006

Poem Edited: Saturday, August 7, 2010

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