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Unknown Legend

Sam was as solid as the small mountain That marked the landscape where I grew up He never learned to read- Which stung his pride No-one knew his age, and- Sam was not his real name In my father’s antique repairs workshop The sharp smell of sweat and sawdust and chemicals Used to give old furniture new life Their practiced hands made wood yield He was the silent witness to our family’s history What did he say to his children up in KwaZulu Natal What stories did he tell about our foreign lives? In his slow voice full of pauses and quiet integrity I have vivid memories of Sam cracking open coconuts with his big axe The white flesh of the fruit smashed on the brickwork like tiny pieces of art The R2 coins he gave me as a child for treats As shiny and full of the promise of sweetness as my young life The misspelled text message on my first birthday away from home Sam was as constant as the days of the week When my father died Sam uprooted the big oak in our garden That was strangling the septic tank Using the big axe among other tools to bring it down And at the memorial he sat next to my grandmother With his arms folded across his chest As quietly strong as a rock, or a full stop.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2020




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