If I Should Tell You

By BREYTEN BREYTENBACH

If I should tell you they come to this place,
those who’d written out their lying lives, that they move
languidly yet deft like butterflies, one by one they come,
a movement in the penumbra, each with a shimmering
shield or carapace on the back stretching from neck
to the fold of the knees, and over the shield
a thin membrane-like cape, but it is as a darkened page
or a tanned human skin, you cannot read the faces,
the arms but protuberances and the hands
making helpless gestures of writing, black is the world
when there’s no more sun, dusky gesticulations,
high in depths of the universe meteors scoot,
up to the lip of this sombre cleft in the crust
plunging to subterranean valley-floors, and the faces
one last time lifted like those of dogs
who know not where blindness derives from,
meteor is metaphor,
write and write,
and then jump or flutter, and that down here in the slit
where movement is a final shiver you try to read the scribbles
on skin pages, dark strokes on butterfly-wings remembering
the journeys and loves of old battlefields, and see worded there:
“If I should tell you . . . ”

 

Breyten Breytenbach’s works include All One Horse, Mouroir, Notes from the Middle World, A Season in Paradise, Dog Heart, The Memory of Birds in Times of Revolution, and Voice Over.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 05 here]

If I Should Tell You

Related Posts

hayloft

Choosing a Transitional Object

LUIZA FLYNN GOODLETT
Snip Hansons from Teen Beat while debating / Taylor versus Zac so passionately a curl escapes / its barrette and your best friend tucks it behind / an ear before it catches on lip-gloss. Start a fight / so she’ll get picked up early, forgetting a lanyard / on the den’s yellow shag.

Image of road

LDR

BERNARD FERGUSON
the great ramble of the roads toward the airport, the flight / up & down the flight of stairs inside the house in which / i work now, inside the city & its parks that sprawl long & point / toward the river, which points toward an ocean...

Pilgrimage to A Killing

R. ZAMORA LINMARK
Dear friend, take me to where they dragged you. / Show me the plaza flanked by homes made / of hollow blocks, plywood, rusty tin sheets— / anything to keep rain and flies out. / Point to me the CCTV that followed you / across the basketball court...