A park in Clocolan
My grandfather also liked to tell the story
of a baobab that pushed away asphalt
and grew, though they kept cutting it
and covering its stump with tar.
And each time it would grow stronger
and push with more passion. Seven times
they sawed it, poured plant poison on it
and shovelled tar onto its fresh wound.
But it was saved by providence and guts,
and it came back again and again, against
their bricks and their mortar, dug in now
and getting angrier each time. In the end
the government had to make that street
swerve around her, like a private ring road.
When she was old enough and tired
of breathing the fumes of civilisation,
they grew grass around her, put a painted
bench there and installed a water fountain
that had a sign that said blankes on it.
Letter to Country blends together life experiences from a childhood in Lesotho and South Africa during a time of apartheid with adulthood in the Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee and beyond. In his third published poetry collection, Masilo demonstrates why he continues to receive international praise for his superb craftsmanship and profound sensitivities.
Rethabile Masilo blogs at Poéfrika and co-edits Canopic Jar. He 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. His work has been published in various magazines and online. He is the author of two previous poetry collections: Things That Are Silent (Pindrop Press, 2012) and Waslap (The Onslaught Press, 2015).