Sage… like the relationships I’ve never had

A Poem

By Sinenhlanhla MlilowokuNqoba Maphezabantu

I am not certain if there is a heaven but
When I hear the hymns as they echo, resounding and
Bouncing against the trees and the white rocks,
I envision myself in heaven as the singing fills my head
My conscience shackling my entire body,
Everything is instantaneously aligned
I don’t belong here, my relations with these people burnt years ago
The ashes left to scatter in the sky, drifting right then left and finally disappearing
Into the vast air

It took me years to memorise the dances to these hymns
The light steps and slides, the hand claps nezimbomu
The dancing and the singing were the only things that kept me interested

Though in the trenches of my soul, despair reigned supreme
Making my heart ache and fracture, that’s why I ceased going to church
Even the singing started to make my heart gallop, making me feel like
A perverted girl who was soiling the maidens
Seeing people who seemingly have no authentic sense of worship anguishes me
I adhered to all their principles but look at me
A depressed sorrowful offspring, waiting for the mother to cradle me

Church is supposed to replenish and redeem but, towards the end though
It was eroding my last bits of happiness,
My last surviving hopes of normality
While happy ridiculed me about my mouth which would reek,
Due to my lack of speech and reach, while bursts of laughter erupted
Numerous years passed on before I realised the severity of those songs (izihlabelelo)
The depth and the message they carried… I choked
Thinking that every word was a spear directed towards me
Being unaware that,
There was no need to loathe myself because

All the while I was the victim in all this