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Rethabile Masilo: Featured Poet

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Tonight, I go to bed

with images of Maria Concepcion in my head,
and Walcott beckoning from the edge of the sea
with honey dripping from the tips of his fingers.
Today the stars are bright in my eyes because
they’re right, the sea is calm with satisfaction.
Across the bay, black women swagger
to the beat of calypso, signalling me to come
with obscene, half-incredible signs.
Boats sway in the dark like grief lanterns
on a river in Japan after a quake.
It is time to come out and tell the truth
of who we really are. I do my coming out
the moment sleep touches me, and today’s hopes
merge with tomorrow’s dream,
and there’s a glimpse of light at the end of my tunnel
with the absolute serenity of the dead.
Tonight I go to bed with a smile on my face,
as I think of the goddess of Spring
whom I met when I was a young man,
and who now sleeps beside me in my room,
of Walcott and his guardian angel
following him from island to island
in his grey pirogue, its oars tossing
the dark green salad of the sea. I think
of the glint in his eye, like a sun off water,
and because he looks at me I ask him, in my language,
for his secret: ke kopa lekunutu la hao, ntate,
but he only smiles, his head white like his egrets,
like ash from wood that more than once has served,
fragrance, light, warmth, given without regret.
Together they head off in solidarity, his hand
brushing the hem of her dress as he rows them
to liberty, where words grow like fruit on trees.

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Rethabile is a Mosotho poet who enjoys reading and writing. He lives in Paris, France, with his wife and two children. Rethabile is self-employed and works in language-teaching. He says he has been writing for a good while, learning through trial and error and picking up lots of sounds by reading and re-reading the poems that he likes. His work has been published in various magazines and online.

Rethabile was born in 1961 in Lesotho and left his country with his parents and siblings to go into exile in 1980. He moved through The Republic of South Africa (very short stay, on account of the weight of Apartheid), Kenya and The United States of America, before settling in France in 1987.

He blogs at Poéfrika and co-edits the literary magazine Canopic Jar.

‘In his debut collection, Things That Are Silent, Rethabile Masilo has crafted poems that bear witness to seemingly unnoticed events. Whether it’s a tribute to Sharpeville or an indictment of apartheid from a lover’s tongue, Masilo’s lyrical voice attests the fervent need to preserve memory from the quotidian crush of collective amnesia.’

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10 thoughts on “Rethabile Masilo: Featured Poet”

  1. This is a poem that deserves a lot of reading – it is like a song to freedom. Some wonderful images:

    “today’s hopes
    merge with tomorrow’s dream”,

    “tossing
    the dark green salad of the sea.”

    amongst many others. Thanks for such a memorable piece of work. It made me want to sing it out loud. Valerie

  2. Gorgeous imagery. I love how the poem moves, rhythmically, conceptually towards liberty….where words are as ripe and delicious as fruit. Well done, Ret. Wish this one was in your lovely collection too 🙂
    Pindrop Press

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