Soweto (1974)

February 12, 2008
Late last night
in a land so far but near,
an aging woman
entangled in thought,
wrestled with her mind
as her toes squeezed and crinkled powdery sand.

Her lips clung together,
trapping her secret past.
Despondent now
hopeless and haggard,
she recollects
all the crumbling memories of her childhood.

She skipped off to school
on her dirt-dusted toes,
gripping the torn edges of her only white blouse.
The schoolyard
arid, but flowing with students.
And all the children stepped outside to rally.
Fervent messages surfaced from the wave
of students.
Too short, she saw only the tips of signs.

The older students
exchanged predictions,
yet she only quivered and wondered
shivered and pondered
the untold impending fate.

She was rocked and tossed.
Angry fighters at her side,
dogs howling to her left
and screams close behind.
She was a speck
overwhelmed by hundreds.

The hand of her friend wandered to hers,
assured her eventual peace.
Yet tsunami rose from the wave
and the police,
they fired
hundreds of bullets to make it cease.

She fell and concealed her tiny body
beneath those who have deceased.
Blood clung to her only blouse
Salty tears seeped under her tongue.
Digging her nails into the field,
she would be buried here,
if she didn’t run until her thighs
gave out beneath her feathery body.

The wave broke behind her,
followed by the clash
of children into parents’ trembling arms,
worn sneakers into orange earth,
and bullets into motionless chests.

So after 32 years
she still cries
for the wave,
for all who died.
Thirsty and thinning, she fades out of history,
with sounds of the ocean in her dry mind.

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