Thursday, 7 August 2014


“Sout-piel, luister jy?”

He cupped his hand,
Short fingers,
Thick palmed
Across the flame.

“This here, boy,
This here’s
The fucking front”
We crouched low
Back on our heels
As that syrupy night
Flowed around us.

And that was when
The bullet kissed him
High on one cheek
A lipstick-stain
Red-slicked his skin.

He didn’t cry out
All I heard was
A surprised grunt
Then the mutter
Stutter of the lights
And the sound:
That bewildering

The dizzy
All around
Of the flutter,
Soft breezes
Tiny and wee
Teasing pleasing
Snickering sounds
Seeking me out,
So I hugged
The ground.

I was afraid ,
I hugged
The ground,
And next to me
He shuddered
And cried out;
Reached down
That heavy hand
Fumbled about,
Found me
My head
So I took it:
I took his hand
And he sighed.

So I sat up
And held him.
He breathed:
In and out.
In and out.

After a while
He was
My only sound.

He smelled
Of piss
And shit
And blood.
So I held him
Until he died.

I can’t remember
His name,
But I loved him
All the same.

Manuela Cardiga

* "Sout-piel" is Afrikaans slang for English speaking South Africans, in this case a rookie. It means literally "salt-dick" because the English speakers were seen as having one foot in the UK and on in SA, with their dicks hanging over the Atlantic...

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