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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 © Zara Bosman | Year Posted 2020


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