How to make gold out of absence

A Poem

By Nkateko Masinga

the instructions said
mix 100 parts yellow
3 parts magenta
& 1 part blue
[to make
gold]

[100 parts yellow]
i wasn’t yellow boned enough for them to love me
so i decided to stay brown and loved myself instead
all 100 parts of me are the colour of
soil earth wood and rock
what a revolution
but not enough
[to make
gold]

[3 parts magenta]
i didn’t know what magenta was
but it sounded like ma’gents/
ma’jita
words i associated with home/
township slang/
tsotsi taal/
things my tongue knew as well as bogobe le nama
there are 3 parts of mamelodi i can get lost in and still be home
and home is comforting
but not enough
[to make gold]

1 part blue]
i wore a blue dress and walked
to the place you first laid eyes on me
in a way that said i think i see your soul
i think you have the 1 part of me
i am not hoarding
i know why
real gold is a metal
and not a colour:
i needed to touch you
to know i wasn’t dreaming

the instructions said
mix 100 parts yellow
3 parts magenta
& 1 part blue
[to make gold]

did i mix it wrong?
all i see here is you.