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.
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