Sunday morning radio

A Poem

By Sithembiso Mdlalose

It took me forever to write these words

I’m still writing these words

This poem is unfinished

And I don’t know if it ever will


Like how my adolescent black body longed

For his presence

Running barefooted

With an unfinished sketch of him in my mind

Nothing seemed permanent







My father

The man whose blood runs through my veins

And whose image I find hard to trace

Nothing seems permanent  


So I gave everyone around me a taste of my blues,

But mostly keeping to myself

Making homes out of idle words

Building shelters out of empty promises

Running barefooted

inside the house I built


My speech is an unfinished sketch of him

I ran,

stuttering wildly trying to finish it

But I kept on stammering





Nothing seemed complete

Until I bumped into her



My Mother


Her rebukes

Her beatings

Her angry look

Her no’s

and her yes’s

Her cooking

And her prayers

In them, I found a home


nothing seems permanent  


Hymn hymn hymn hymn

Hymn hymn…


Sunday morning hymning  to Ezra Ngcukana ’s standard jazz piece on the radio


Hymn hymn hymn hymn

Hymn hymn…


I swear to God I could hear God speak through her hymning  


“Here are your shoes

This is the imagine

It is complete”


“This is home”.