Trees. Trees. More trees… Cotton fields… Sunflower fields…
Trees interspersed with cotton fields and sunflower fields
Carousel past my train window at the speed of tumbleweeds
Before a hurricane.
My eyes play tag with the giant red anthills in the horizon that
Tower over the fields like vacant lighthouses on dead beaches.
Billows of black smoke cartwheeling through the skies canvas what is left of
Vultures are stripping what is left of an elephant carcass while wrestling off
Hyena cubs in fields of rotting, unripened watermelons.
We stop on the edge of the dry savanna and are greeted in the distance by
Gigantically monstrous, cumulonimbus clouds that threaten to crack open like
Hatching eggs above the scorching dryness that is thirsting for a quench.
Slowly, the train begins to pull away from the arid stop and rhythmic melodies
Of the globules of cool rain begin a wet symphony on the tin roof of the tired train
I am home. This scent of cooling, half-baked mud and the glistening skirts of the acacia trees
Hypnotise me back into the reality of the meaning of ‘home’.
My grandmother’s clay painted hut is in the distance and I can hear the bellowing cows and
Why do I ever leave, only to be reminded of the priceless value of the constants that connect me to this soil that seeps me back in every time I return…
Frank Malaba © 2016
Boys, Shame, Fault
I am 9 years old and clearing the table of messy plates after dinner with mom, dad and “uncle”. We’ve just said bye to mom and dad as they left for the music concert that begins in 30 minutes. “Uncle” is left to babysit me for the night. We will make popcorn in sunflower oil. Tonight he will let me salt it because I am a good boy and will not put too much salt in it. He will also not tell mom that he let me use the salt cellar. We want to clear the table, make popcorn and sit in front of the black and white TV screen to watch “Enter the Dragon” before it begins at 21h30. We manage all this in time. Even the salting of popcorn under his supervisory eye and the gentle grip of my wrist to make sure I do not make a mess of this delicate process.
We sit on the couch. There’s a blanket. There’s a cold, unfamiliar hand… a forceful, uncaring, grating and unzipping hand. There’s a tear of frenulum. I catch Bruce Lee in the corner of my eye. He can’t save me. “Uncle” is too strong. All. This. Blood. On my favourite shorts with a coin pocket and a hole in them. “Go and clean yourself! “. “You should be careful with your zip!”. The bathroom light is too bright. I want darkness. It must swallow me whole. The water in the sink is crystal clear and pure before I cloudy it up with Dettol. The white cotton wool almost disappears in the tainted water. I fish it out. My. Broken. Frenulum. The sting. The fear that grips me when I dip back the cotton ball in the water and it turns a pink lemonade colour. I remember it all. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault. Ask my favourite shorts. They’re buried under the mango trees in the orchard. Where childhood dreams sway like savannah grass on a breezy day, waiting to be claimed by the boy who grew up too soon and lived in fear of shame. I have to find those dreams and tell them that I didn’t know better. And that we cannot reunite, because I can’t find the boy. He sunk into the television rays that night. Looking for Bruce Lee.
Frank Malaba (c) 2016
Frank Malaba is an enigma to Zimbabwe, the country of his birth. Such a distinction is not defined by his talent as a poet, artist, writer, but by his advocacy, as a gay African male. He STANDS, though persecuted, he STANDS, to love, and he speaks his truth. Malaba loves his country, but fights for his “very being.” He invites all gay Africans to stand with him, to fight for the right be treated as vital participants in African culture that deserve to be respected. His blog, Frank Malaba’s Prosetry, invites all kindred spirits to speak, love, and heal.