the language of blood/rooi taal
the moon, a sliver of itself tonight,
‘n stuk in a tongue I had to cut out
of my mouth, round and forgiving
once but now riven to reveal
a chasm of vocabularies
other than daai een. these words
stumble out of me like drunk men
in a reverie, in revelry, revering
what I have become, reverend
of my own ng kerk, a bad religion.
mama still says waslap and buite;
she taught us well, no blasphemy.
of a language languishing, repeat
only the words that injure no one.
a clean tongue is gold, repeat not
what was said. forgive them baba
they know not what they do. take
the high road, replete with marvel:
the moon is full tonight, blemished
but bleeding into a forgiving black.
Nkateko Masinga is a South African poet. She is the author of a digital chapbook titled the heart is a caged animal, published by Praxis Magazine. Her latest chapbook, psalm for chrysanthemums, has been selected by the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books to be published in the 2020 New Generation African Poets box set. She can be found at nkatekomasinga.com.