Today I Do Not Love My Country

By INGRID DE KOK

 

South Africa, May 2008

Today I do not love my country.
It is venal, it is cruel.
Lies are open sewers in the street. 
Threats scarify the walls.

Tomorrow I may defend my land 
when others X-ray the evidence:
feral shadows, short sharp knives.
I may argue our grievous inheritance.

On Wednesday I may let the winded stars
fall into my lap, breathe air’s golden ghee, 
smell the sea’s salt cellar, run my fingers
along the downy arm of the morning.

I may on Thursday read of a hurt child
given refuge and tended by neighbours,
sing with others the famous forgiving man
who has forgotten who were enemies, who friends.

But today, today, I cannot love my country.
It staggers in the dark, lurches in a ditch.
A curdled mob drives people into pens, 
brands them like cattle,
only holds a stranger’s hand
to press it into fire,
strings firecrackers through a child,
burns stores and shacks, burns.

 

 

Ingrid de Kok has published five volumes of poetry, most recently Seasonal Fires and Other Signs.

Click here to purchase Issue 04

Today I Do Not Love My Country

Related Posts

sunset and forest trees

Hummingbird Tantra

CORRIE WILLIAMSON
Red draws their tiny eye, and every hummingbird / feeder you can buy blooms a plastic, stoic / ruby, effigy of flower, tadasana of red. Already / they have eaten me out of sugar, but forgetful today / I’ve left the sliding porch door wide, and on my couch / a cheery wool blanket...

Headshot of J.D.

Side Mirror

J.D. SCRIMGEOUR
You’re floundering in flashes of light and dark, / so after a few minutes you scoot inside / because January’s cold, and ask your wife for help, / embarrassed you can’t do even this simple task. / She peers over her glasses, studies the tape, / then returns it unstuck, separated...

image of lynn thompson

A Rage on Berbice, 1763

LYNNE THOMPSON
Before I was north and south of a new country / I was divided from    I was a tactic      I was / a slave-trading port / Before I was remade as Amerindian / I was sugar as the main crop / Before I was overworked and underfed / I was selected for immediate punishment