Issue Four

Summer 2012

 

Letters from Maun, Botswana


“Fatshe la dikgomo, fatshe la mabele/Fatshe la mašwi a elelang jaaka metse/Mašwi a dikgomo di gangwang di robetse”

“Land of cows, land of sorghum/Land where milk flows like water/Milk of cows milked reclining”
        ~ L. D. Raditladi, “Fatshe la Batswana”

1.

in the delta I saw a springbok lopped at the knees
contents kept inside four-bellied ruminants
splayed like four ripped feedsacks of spelt

stampeding wildebeest startled by the changes
in the grass—the tread of lioness ghosts


2.

a blinking satellite wheels across a scattergraph of stars
I stand among the ungulates—blue as Sirius—
another shadow in the dark bracketed by cattle
as they groan and shit in the kraal

they lick beads of the day's rain from each other's coats
while dry lightning glimpses distant papyrus

dear midnight fullness, stomach pang
dear crunched numberless
wildebeest counts        my nest of papers

I've never known such darkness:
lazuli giants silently burn
the space junk constellates
like bushberries on the blacktop
to me, Orion guesses at his extra limbs,
the bull on the horizon has a snaking tail


3.

Dear Mother, I’ve learned of
winnowed seeds in a woven grass basket,
kerosene and hard corn

bushwrens flitter in the brush
while the cattlepost priest
praises in his courtyard apse
made of chicken-wire and thickets
he screeches badimo meaning
ancestor or demon—dust and air

a tremor hums low
what gifts I have for the earth

an alloy incisor, alloy fillings

water lily root flavors meat of earth
some miles away tsessebes race to the pan
and risen water floodplanes on


_________________________



Joey De Jesus

purple