Driving back over my childhood

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Displacement, Family, Poetry1 Comment

Going home to Zimbabwe

Because of the unexpected changes in Zimbabwe last week I am posting two poems – one from 1980 when I returned to my father’s farm, and another from 1961 my last year at school.

Ford Laser speeds up the dual highway.

(Commercial break)

Camera pans back to parents.

Airport to homecoming – half an hour and a litre of fuel.

I have been driving back over my childhood

on the rim of a blown out brain.

The past has been smoothly macadamised

and has altered the shape of the day.

Strange trees hold their hands to the sky

they took the time of my life in growing

to shield my eyes from my once barefoot youth.

The vlei and the rocks and the river

have vanished, are buried, are gone.

The city is reaching around me

and squeezing the breath from my dream.

The Golden Stairs no longer reach heaven

but turn away from the old road home.

The kopjie that leaned on my shoulder,

had my back when I needed some strength,

is worn out and balding and barren

damaged by too many greeds.

I am still driving back over my childhood

on the rim of a blown out brain

but the ghosts that rise up won’t greet me.

I am the one who ran away from my home.

I have seen the rocks

hard against the soft sky

before sudden night descended

and filled the dark hollows

with the sound of insect wings

Hard as the rocks

against my heart lies fear.

Written in 1961 Wedza after the election of the Rhodesian Front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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