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.

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Today I Do Not Love My Country

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